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Full text of "Winter sunshine"

ODINTSR 
'SUNSHIN6 



JQl 



FN- BURROUGHS 



LIBRARY OF 
WELLES LEY COLLEGE 




PRESENTED BY 



i 



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SNOW BUNTINGS. 



WINTER SUNSHINE 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

j894 



BY 



JOHN BURROUGHS 




Copyright, 1875, 
By JOHN BURROUGHS. 



PREFATORY. 



The only part of my book I wish to preface is 
the last part, — the foreign sketches,-— and it is not 
much matter about these, since, if they do not contain 
their own proof I shall not attempt to supply it here. 

I have been told that De Lolme, who wrote a no- 
table book on the English Constitution, said that 
after he had been in England a few weeks, he fully 
made up his mind to write a book on that country ; 
after he had lived there a year, he still thought of 
writing a book, but was not so certain about it, but 
that after a residence of ten years he abandoned his 
first design altogether. Instead of furnishing an ar- 
gument against writing out one's first impressions of 
a country, I think the experience of the Frenchman 
shows the importance of doing it at once. The sen- 
sations of the first day are what we want — the first 
flush of the traveler's thtDught and feeling, before 
his perception and sensibilities become cloyed or 
blunted, or before he in any way becomes a part of 
that which he would observe and describe. Then the 
Ajuerican in England is jusft enough at home to en- 



iv 



PREFATORY. 



able him to discriminate subtle shades and differencea 
at first sight which might escape a traveler of another 
and antagonistic race. He has brought with him, 
but little modified or impaired, his whole inheritance 
of English ideas and predilections, and much ol 
what he sees afi*ects him like a memory. It is hit 
own past, his ante-natal life, and his long buried an 
cestors look through his eyes and perceive with hii> 
sense. 

I have attempted only the surface, and to expresfi 
my own first day's uncloyed and unalloyed satisfac- 
tion. Of course I have put these things through my 
own processes and given them my own coloring (as 
who would not), and if other travelers do not find 
what I did, it is no fault of mine ; or if the " Brit- 
.shers " do not deserve all the pleasant things I say of 
them, why then so much the worse for them. 

In fact, if it shall appear that I have treated this 
part in the same spirit that I have the themes in the 
other chapters, reporting only such things as im- 
pressed me and stuck to me and tasted good, I shall 
be satisfied. 

E80i»u&-o.v-HuDsojf, November, 1876. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGI 

I. Winter Suxshixe 7 

II. Exhilarations of the Road .... 31 

III. The Sxow-Walkers 51 

IV. The Fox . . 79 

V. A March Chronicle ... . . 99 
VI. Autumn Tides 113 

VIL The Apple 129 

mi. An October Abroad 149 

I. Mellow England . .... 151 

n. English Characteristics • . • . 190 

m. A Glimpse of France ..... 205 

XT. From London to N«w Tork • • . 220 



WINTEB SUNSfflNE. 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



An American resident in England is reported as 
Baying that the English have an atmosphere but no 
climate. The reverse of this remark would apply 
pretty accurately to our own case. We certainly 
have a climate, a two-edged one that cuts both ways, 
threatening us with sun-stroke on the one hand and 
with frost-stroke on the other, but we have no atmos- 
phere to speak of in New York and New England, 
except now and then during the dog-days, or the fit- 
ful and uncertain Indian Summer. An atmosphere, 
the quality of tone and mellowness in the near dis- 
tance, is the product of a more humid climate. Hence, 
as we go south from New York, the atmospheric 
effects become more rich and varied, until on reach- 
ing the Potomac you find an atmosphere as well as a 
climate. The latter is still on the vehement Ameri- 
can scale, full of sharp and violent changes and con- 
trasts, baking and blistering in summer, and nipping 
and blighting in winter, but the spaces are not so 
purged and bare ; the horizon wall does not so often 
have the appearance of having just been washed and 
icrubbed down. There is more depth and visibilitj 



10 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



to the open air, a stronger infusion of the Indian 
Summer element throughout the year, than is found 
farther north. The days are softer and more brood- 
ing, and the nights more enchantiDg. It is here that 
Walt Whitman saw the full moon 

" Pour down Night's nimbus floods," 

as any one may see her, during her fiill, from Octo- 
ber to May. There is more haze and vapor in the 
atmosphere during that period, and every particle 
seems to collect and hold the pure radiance until the 
world swims with the lunar outpouring. Is not the 
full moon always on the side of fair weather ? I think 
it is Sir William Herschell who says her influence 
tends to dispel the clouds. Certain it is her beauty 
is seldom lost or even veiled in this southern or semi- 
southern clime. 

It is here also the poet speaks of the 

" Floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, 
Indolent sinking sun, burning, expanding the air," 

a description that would not apply with the same 
force farther north, where the air seems thinner and 
le&s capable of absorbing and holding the sunlight. 
Indeed, the opulence and splendor of our climate, at 
least the climate of our Atlantic sea-board, cannot be 
fully appreciated by the dweller north of the thii^ty- 
rinth parallel. It seemed as if I had never seen but 
a second-rate article of sunlight or moonlight until I 
had taken up my abode in the National Capital. It 
may be, perhaps, because we have such splendid sped 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



11 



meus of both at that period of the year when one 
values such things highest, namely, in the fall and 
winter and early spring. Sunlight is good any time, 
but a bright, evenly tempered day is certainly more 
engrossing to the attention in winter than in summer, 
and such days seem the rule, and not the exception, in 
the Washington winter. The deep snows keep to 
the north, the heavy rains to the south, leaving a 
blue space central over the border States. And there 
is not one of the winter months but wears this blue 
zone as a girdle. 

I am not thinking especially of the Indian Sum- 
mer, that charming but uncertain second youth of the 
New England year, but of regularly recurring lucid 
intervals in the weather system of the Virginia fall 
and winter, when the best our climate is capable of 
stands revealed, — southern days with northern blood 
in their veins, exhilarating, elastic, full of action, the 
hyperborean oxygen of the North tempered by the 
dazzling sun of the South, a little bitter in winter to 
all travelers but the pedestrian — to him sweet and 
warming — but in autumn a vintage that intoxicates 
all lovers of the open air. 

It is impossible not to dilate and expand under 
such skies. One breathes deeply and steps proudly, 
and if he have any of the eagle nature in him it 
conies to the surface then. There is a sense of alti- 
tude about these dazzling November and December 
days, of mountain tops and pure ether. The earth in 
^•assing through the fire of summer seems to have 
08t all its dross, and life all its impediments. 



12 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



But what does not the dweller in the National 
Capital endure in reaching these days ? Think of 
the agonies of the heated term, the ragings of the 
dog-star, the purgatory of heat and dust, of baking, 
blistering pavements, of cracked and powdered fields, 
of dead stifling night air, from which every tonic and 
antiseptic quality seems eliminated, leaving a resid- 
uum of sultry malaria and all diffusing privy and 
Bewer gases, that lasts from the first of July to near 
the middle of September. But when October is 
reached, the memory of these things is afar off, and 
the glory of the days is a perpetual surprise. 

I sally out in the morning with the ostensible pur- 
pose of gathering chestnuts, or autumn leaves, or 
persimmons, or exploring some run or branch. It is, 
say, the last of October or the first of November. 
The air is not balmy, but tart and pungent, like the 
flavor of the red-cheeked apples by the road-side. In 
the sky not a cloud, not a speck ; a vast dome of 
blue ether lightly suspended above the world. The 
woods are heaped with color like a painter's palette — 
great splashes of red and orange and gold. The 
ponds and streams bear upon their bosoms leaves of 
all tints, from the deep maroon of the oak to the pale 
yellow of the chestnut. In the glens and nooks it is 
^o still that the chirp of a solitary cricket is notice- 
vble. The red berries of the dogwood and spice-bush 
and other shrubs shine in the sun like rubies and 
coral. The crows fly high above the earth as they do 
wily on such days, forms of ebony floating across th« 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



13 



azure, and the buzzards look like kingly birds, sail- 
ing round and round. 

Or it may be later in the season, well into Decern 
ber. The days are equally bright, but a little more 
rugged. The mornings are ushered in by an im- 
mense spectrum thrown upon the eastern sky. A 
broad bar of red and orange lies along the low hori- 
zon, surmounted by an expanse of color in which 
green struggles with yellow and blue with green half 
the way to the zenith. By and by the red and or- 
ange spread upward and grow dim, the spectrum fades 
and the sky becomes suffused with yellow white light, 
and in a moment the fiery scintillations of the sun 
begin to break across the Maryland hills. Then be- 
fore long the mists and vapors uprise like the breath 
of a giant army, and for an hour or two one is re- 
minded of a November morning in England. But 
by mid-forenoon the only trace of the obscurity that 
remains is a slight haze, and the day is indeed a sum- 
mons and a challenge to come forth. If the Octo- 
ber days were a cordial like the sub-acids of fruit, 
these are a tonic like the wine of iron. Drink deep 
pr be careful how you taste this December vintage. 
The first sip may chill, but a full draught warms and 
invigorates. No loitering by the brooks or in the 
woods now, but spirited, rugged walking along the 
public highway. The sunbeams are welcome now. 
They seem like pure electricity — like friendly and 
recuperating lightning. Are we led to think elec- 
^icity abounds only in summer when we see in tho 



14 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



itorm-clouds as it were, the veins and ore-beds of it i 
I imagine it is equally abundant in winter, and more 
equable and better tempered. Who ever breasted 
a snow-storm without being excited aod exhilarated, 
as if this n^teor had come charged with latent aurorao 
of the North, as doubtless it has ? It is like being 
pelted with sparks from a battery. Behold the frost- 
work on the pane — the wild, fantastic limnings and 
etchings, can there be any doubt but this subtle 
agent has been here ? Where is it not ? It is the 
life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire 
of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp 
winter air is full of it. When I come in at night 
after an all day tramp I am charged like a Leyden 
jar, my hair crackles and snaps beneath the comb 
like a cat's back, and a strange, new glow diffuses it- 
self through my system. 

It is a spur that one feels at this season more than 
at any other. How nimbly you step forth! The 
woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills look in- 
vitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the 
Bongsters, or wish the trees or the fields any different, 
or heavens any nearer. Every object pleases. A 
i-ail fence, running athwart the hills, now in sunshine 
and now in shadow — how the eye lingers upon itl 
Or the straight, light-gray trunks of the trees, where 
the woods have recently been laid open by a roaJ or 
a clearing, how curious they look, and as if surprised 
in undress. Next year they will begin to shoot out 
branches and make themselves a screen. Or the 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



15 



farm scene? — the winter barn-yards littered with 
husks and straw, the rough-coated horses, the cattle 
Bunning themselves or walking down to the spring to 
drink, the domestic fowls moving about — there is a 
touch of sweet homely life in these things that the 
winter sun enhances and brings out. Every sign of 
iife is welcome at this season. I love to hear dogs 
bark, hens cackle, and boys shout ; one has no pri- 
vacy with Nature now, and does not wish to seek 
her in nooks and hidden ways. She is not at home 
if he goes there ; her house is shut up and her hearth 
cold ; only the sun and sky, and perchance the waters, 
wear the old look, and to-day we will make love 
to them, and they shall abundantly return it. 

Even the crows and the buzzards draw the eye 
fondly. The National Capital is a great place for 
buzzards, and I make the remark in no double or 
allegorical sense either, for the buzzards I mean are 
black and harmless as doves, though perhaps hardly 
dovelike in their tastes. My vulture is also a bird of 
leisure, and sails through the ether on long flexible 
pinions, as if that was the one delight of his life. 
Some birds have wings others have " pinions." The 
buzzard enjoys this latter distinction. There is some- 
thing in the sound of the word that suggests that 
easy, dignified, undulatory movement. He does not 
oropel himself along by sheer force of muscle, after 
whe plebeian fashion of the crow for instance, but 
progresses by a kind of royal indirection that puzzles 
.the eye. Even on a windy winter day he ndes the 



16 



WINTER SUNSHINK. 



vast aerial billows as placidly as ever, rising and fall" 
ing as he comes up toward you, carving liis way 
through the resisting currents by a slight oscilla- 
tion to the right and left, but never once beating the 
air openly. 

This superabundance of wing power is very un- 
equally distributed among the feathered races, the 
hawks and vultures having by far the greater share 
of it. They cannot command the n^ost speed, but 
their apparatus seems the most delicate and con- 
summate. Apparently a fine play of muscle, a subtle 
fehifting of the power along the outstretched wings, a 
perpetual loss and a perpetual recovery of the equi- 
poise, sustains them and bears them along. With 
them flying is a luxury, a fine art, not merely a 
quicker and safer means of transit from one point to 
another, but a gift so free and spontaneous that 
that work becomes leisure and movement rest. They 
are not so much going somewhere, from this perch to 
that, as they are abandoning themselves to the mere 
pleasure of riding upon the air. 

And it is beneath such grace and high-bred leisure 
that Nature hides in her creatures the occupation o^ 
scavenger and carrion eater ! 

But the worst thing about the buzzard is hi^ 
silence. The crow caws, the hawk screams, the 
eagle barks, but the buzzard says not a word. Sc 
<ar as I have observed he has no vocal powers what- 
ever. Nature dare not trust him to speak. In hii 
2ase she preserves a discreet silence. 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



17 



The crow may not have the sweet voice which the 
fox in his flattery attributed to him, but he has a 
good^ strong, native speech nevertheless. How much 
character tliere is in it ! Plow mucli thrift and in 
dependence ! Of course his plumage is firm, his color 
decided, his wit quick. He understands you at once 
and tells you so; so does the hawk by his scorn- 
ful, defiant ivhir-r-r-r-r. Hardy, happy outlaws, the 
crows, how I love them. Alert, social, republican, 
always able to look out for themselves, not afraid of 
the cold and the snow, fishing when flesh is scarce and 
stealing when other resources fail, the crow is a char- 
acter I would not willingly miss from the landscape^ 
I love to see his track in the snow or the mud, and 
his graceful pedestrianism about the brown fields. 

He is no interloper but has the air and manner of 
being thoroughly at home and in rightful possession 
of the land. He is no sentimentalist like some of the 
plaining, disconsolate song-birds, but apparently is al- 
ways in good health and good spirits. No matter who 
is sick, or dejected, or unsatisfied, or what the weather 
is, or what the price of corn, the crow is well and 
finds life sweet. He is the dusky embodiment of 
worldly wisdom and prudence. Then he is one of Nat- 
ure's self-appointed constables and greatly magnifies 
his office. He would fain prrest every hawk or owl 
or grimalkin that ventures abroad. I have known a 
posse of them to beset the fox and cry " thief" till 
Reynard hid himself for shame. Do I say the fox 
Mattered the crow when he told him he had a sweet 

2 



18 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



roice ? Yet one of the most musical sounds iu natui« 
proceeds from the crow. All the crow tribe from the 
blue jay up are capable of certain low ventriloquial 
notes that have peculiar cadence and charm. I often 
hear the crow indulging in his, in winter, and am re- 
minded of the sound of the dulcimer. The bird 
stretches up and exerts himself like a cock in the act 
of crowing and gives forth a peculiarly clear, vitreous 
sound that is sure to arrest and reward your atten- 
tion. This is no doubt the song the fox begged to 
be favored with, as in delivering it the crow must 
inevitably let drop the piece of meat. 

The crow in his purity, I believe, is seen and heard 
only in the North. Before you reach the Potomac 
there is an infusion of a weaker element, the fish- 
crow, whose helpless feminine call contrasts strongly 
with the hearty masculine caw of the original Simon. 

In passing from crows to colored men I hope I am 
not guilty of any disrespect toward the latter. In 
my walks about Washington, both winter and sum- 
mer, colored men are about the only pedestrians I 
meet ; and I meet them everywhere, in the fields 
and in the woods and in the public road, swinging 
along with that peculiar, rambling, elastic gait, taking 
advantage of the short cuts and threading the country 
with paths and byways. I doubt if the colored man 
can compete with his white brother as a walker ; his 
foot is too flat and the calves of his legs too small, but 
he is certainly the most picturesque traveler to be 
leen on the road. He bends his knees more than tht 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



19 



white mdUy and oscillates more to and fro, or from 
lide to side. The imaginary line which his head de- 
icribes is full of deep and long undulations. Even 
the boys and young men sway as if bearing a burden. 

Along the fences and by the woods I come upon 
their snares, dead-falls, and rude box-traps. The 
freedman is a sucessful trapper and hunter and has 
by nature an insight into these things. I frequently 
Bee him in market or on his way thither with a tame 
'possum clinging timidly to liis shoulders, or a young 
coon or fox led by a chain. Indeed the colored man 
behaves precisely like the rude unsophisticated peas- 
ant that he is, and there is fully as much virtue in 
him, using the word in its true sense, as in the white 
peasant ; indeed, much more than in the poor whites 
who grew up by his side, while there is often a be- 
nignity and a depth of human experience and sym- 
pathy about some of these dark faces that comes home 
to one like the best one sees in art or reads in books. 

One touch of Nature makes all the world akin, and 
there is certainly a touch of Nature about the colored 
man : indeed, I had almost said, of Anglo-Saxon nat- 
ure. They have the quaintness and homeliness of 
the simple English stock. I seem to see my grand- 
father and grandmother in the wars and doings of 
hese old " uncles " and " aunties ; indeed the lesson 
comt^s nearer home than even that, for I seem to see 
myself in them, and what is more, I see that they 
see themselves in me, and that neither party haa 
much to boast of. 



20 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



The negro is a plastic human creature, and is thor 
oughly domesticated, and thoroughly anglicized. The 
Bame cannot be said of the Indian for instance, be- 
tween us and whom there can never exist any fellow- 
ship, any community of feeling or interest ; or is there 
any doubt but the Chinaman will always remain to 
us the same impenetrable mystery he has been from 
the first ? 

But there is no mystery about the negro, and he 
touches the Anglo-Saxon at more points than the lat- 
ter is always willing to own, taking as kindly and 
naturally to all his customs and usages, yea, to all 
his prejudices and superstitions as if to the manor 
born. The colored population in very many respects 
occupies the same position as that occupied by our 
rural populations a generation or two ago, seeing 
signs and wonders, haunted by the fear of ghosts and 
hobgoblins, believing in witchcraft, charms, the evil 
eye, etc. In religious matters, also, they are on the 
same level, and about the only genuine shouting 
Methodists that remain are to be found in the colored 
o,hurches. Indeed, I fear the negro tries to ignore 
or forget himself as far as possible, and that he would 
'^leem it felicity enough to play second fiddle to the 
white man all his days. He liked his master, but ho 
f'ikes the Yankee better, not because he regards him 
as his deliverer, but mainly because the two-handed 
thrift of the Northerner, his varied and wonderful 
ability, completely captivates the imagination of the 
black man, just learning to shift for himself. 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



21 



How far he las caught or is capable of being im- 
bued with the Yankee spirit of enterprise and in- 
dustry, remains to be seen. In sonie things he has 
already shown himself an apt scholar. I notice, for 
instance, he is about as industrious an office-seeker aa 
the most patriotic among us, and that he learns with 
amazing ease and rapidity all the arts and wiles of 
the politicians. He is versed in parades, mass meet- 
ings, caucuses, and will soon shine on the stump. I 
observe, also, that he is not far behind us in the ob- 
servance of the fashions, and that he is as good a 
church-goer, theatre-goer, and pleasure-seeker gen- 
erally, as his means will allow. 

Aa a boot-black or news-boy he is an adept in all 
the tricks of the trade, and as a fast young man about 
town among his kind, he is worthy his white pro- 
totjpe ; the swagger, the impertinent look, the coarse 
remark, the loud laugh, are all in the best style. 
As a lounger and starer also, on the street corners of 
a Sunday afternoon, he has taken his degree. 

On the other hand, I know cases among our col- 
ored brethren, plenty of them, of conscientious and 
well-directed effort and industry in the worthiest 
fields, in agriculture, in trade, in the mechanic arts, 
that show the colored man has in him all the best 
ludiments of a citizen of the States. 

Lest my winter sunshine appear to have too many 
'lark rays in it, buzzards, crows, and colored men, I 
taste a to add the brown and neutral tints, and may 
be a red ray can be extracted from some of these 



22 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



bard, smooth, sharp gritted roads that radiate from 
the National Capital. Leading out of Washington 
there are several good roads that invite the pedes- 
trian. There is the road that leads west or north- 
west from Georgetown, the Tenallytown road, the 
very sight of which, on a sharp, lustrous winter Sun- 
day, makes the feet tingle. Where it cuts through a 
hill or high knoll, it is so red it fairly glows in the 
sunlight. I'll warrant you will kindle, and your 
own color will mount if you resign yourself to it. It 
will conduct you to the wild and rocky scenery of 
the upper Potoniao, to Great Falls, and on to Har- 
per's Ferry, if your courage holds out. Then there 
is the road that leads north over Meridian Hill, 
across Piny Branch, and on through the wood of 
Crystal Springs, to Fort Stevens, and so into Mary- 
land. This is the proper route for an excursion in 
the spring to gather wild flowers, or in the fall for a 
nutting expedition, as it lays open some noble woods 
and a great variety of charming scenery ; or for a 
musing moonlight saunter, say in December, when 
the Enchantress has folded and folded the world in 
aer web, it is by all means the course to take. Your 
staff rings on the hard ground, the road, a misty white 
belt, gleams and vanishes before you, the woods are 
cavernous and still, the fields lie in a lunar trance, 
ind you will yourself return fairly mesmerized by 
the beauty of the scene. 

Or you can bend your steps eastward over th<i 
Eastern Branch, up Good Hope Hill and on till you 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



23 



trike the JMarlborough pike, as a trio of us did that 
cold February Sunday we walked from Washington 
to Pumpkintown and back. 

A short sketch of this pilgrimage is a fair sample 
of tliese winter walks. 

The delight I experienced in making this new ac- 
quisition to my geography was, of itself, sufficient to 
atone for any aches or weariness I may have felt. 
The mere fact that one may walk from Washington 
to Pumpkintown, was a discovery I had been all 
these years in making. I had walked to Sligo, and 
to the Northwest Branch, and had made the Falls of 
the Potomac in a circuitous route of ten miles, com- 
ing suddenly upon the river in one of its wildest 
passes ; but I little dreamed all the while that there, 
in a wrinkle (or shall I say furrow ?) of the Mary- 
land hills, almost visible from the outlook of the 
bronze squaw on the dome of the Capitol, and just 
around the head of Oxen Run, lay Pumpkintown. 

The day was cold but the sun was bright, and the 
foot took hold of those hard, dry, gritty Maryland 
roads with the keenest relish. How the leaves of 
the laurel glistened ! The distant oak woods sug- 
gested gray-blue smoke, while the recesses of the 
pines looked like the lair of Night. Beyond the 
District limits we struck the Marlborough pike, 
vhich, round and hard and wnite, held squarely to 
I he east and was visible a mile ahead. Its friction 
brought up the temperature amazingly and spurred 
Uie pedestrians into their best time. As I trudged 
\loDg. Thoreau's lines came naturally to mind : — 



24 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



** When the spring stirs my blood 
With the instinct of travel, 
I can get enough gravel 

On the old Marlborough road." 

Cold as the day was (many degrees below freez- 
ing), I heard and saw bluebirds, and as we passed 
along every sheltered tangle and overgrown field or 
lane swarmed with snow-birds and sparrows — the 
latter mainly Canada or tree-sparrows, with a sprink- 
ling of the song, and, may be, one or two other varie- 
ties. The birds are all social and gregarious in 
winter, and seem drawn together by common instinct. 
Where you find one, you will not only find others of 
the same kind, but also several different kinds. The 
regular winter residents go in little bands, like a well- 
organized pioneer corps — the jays and woodpeckers 
in advance, doing the heavier work ; the nuthatches 
next, more lightly armed ; and the creepers and king- 
lets with their slender beaks and microscopic eyes, 
last of all.-^ 

Now and then, among the gray-and-brown tints, 
there was a dash of scarlet — the cardinal grossbeak, 
whose presence was sufficient to enliven any scene. 
Li the leafless trees, as a ray of sunshine fell upon 
him, he was visible a long way off, glowing like a 
crimson spar — the only bit of color in the whole 
.andscape. 

Maryland is here rather a level, unpicturesquo 

1 It seems to me this is a borrowed observation, but I do no*, 
tiiow whom to credit it to. 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



25 



country — the gaze of the traveler bounded, at no 
great distance, by oak woods, with here and there a 
dark line of pine. We saw few travelers, passed a 
ragged squad or two of colored boys and girls, and 
met some colored women on their way to or from 
church, perhaps. Never ask a colored person — at 
least the crude, rustic specimens — any question that 
hivolves a memory of names, or any arbitrary signs ; 
you will rarely get a satisfactory answer. If you 
could speak to them in their own dialect, or touch the 
right spring in their minds, you would, no doubt, get 
the desired information. They are as local in their 
notions and habits as the animals, and go on much 
the same principles, as, no doubt, we all do, more or 
less. I saw a colored boy come into a public office, 
one day, and ask to see a man with red hair; the 
name was utterly gone from him. The man had red 
whiskers, which was as near as he had come to the 
mark. Ask your washer-woman what street she 
lives on, or where such a one has moved to, and the 
chances are that she cannot tell you, except that it is 
a right smart distance " this way or that, or near 
Mr. So-and-so, or by such and such a place, describe 
ing some local feature. I love to amuse myself, when 
walking through the market, by asking the old 
jiunties, and the young aunties, too, the names of 
their various " yarbs." It seems as if they must trip 
m the simplest names. Bloodroot they generally 
:all " grubroot ; " trailing arbutus goes by the names 
Df " troling " arbutus- " training arbuty-flower," and 



26 



^TNTEK SUNSHINE. 



ground ivory ; " in Virginia, they call woodchucka 
^ moonacks." 

Ou entering Pumpkintown — a cluster of five or 
six small, whitewashed block-houses, toeing squarely 
on the highway — the only inhabitant we saw was a 
small boy, who was as frank and simple as if he had 
Jived on pumpkins and marrow-squashes all his days. 

Half a mile farther on, we turned to the right into 
a characteristic Southern road — a way entirely un- 
kempt, and wandering free as the wind ; now fading 
out into a broad field ; now contracting into a narrow 
track between hedges ; anon roaming with delight- 
ful abandon through swamps and woods, asking no 
leave and keeping no bounds. About two o'clock 
we stopped in an opening in a pine wood, and ate 
our lunch. We had the good fortune to hit upon a 
charming place. A wood-chopper had been there, 
and let in the sunlight full and strong ; and the white 
chips, the newly-piled wood, and the mounds of green 
boughs, were welcome features, and helped also to 
keep off the wind that would creep through under 
the pines. The ground was soft and dry. with a car- 
pet an inch thick of pine-needles, and with a fire, less 
for warmth than to make the picture complete, we 
ate our bread and beans with the keenest satisfaction, 
md with a relish that only the open air can give. 

A fire, of course — an encampment in the woods 
at this season without a fire would be like leaving 
Hamlet out of the play. A smoke is your standard 
rour flag ; it defines and locates your camp at once 



WINTER SUNSfflNE. 



27 



fou are an interloper until you have made a fire ; 
then you take possession ; then the trees and rocks 
seem to look upon you more kindly, and you look 
more kindly upon them. As one opens his budget, 
BO he opens his heart by a fire. Already something 
has gone out from you, and comes back as a faint 
reminiscence and home feeling in the air and place. 
One looks out upon the crow or the buzzard that 
Bails by as from his own fireside. It is not I that am a 
wanderer and a stranger now ; it is' the crow and the 
buzzard. The chickadees were silent at first; but 
now they approach by little journeys, as if to make 
our acquaintance. The nuthatdies, also, cry " Yank ! 
yank ! " in no inhospitable tones ; and those purple 
finches there in the cedars — are they not stealing 
our berries ? 

How one lingers about a fire under such circum- 
stances, loath to leave it, poking up the sticks, throw- 
ing in the burnt ends, adding another branch and yet 
another, and looking back as he turns to go to catch 
one more glimpse of the smoke going up through 
the trees ! I reckon it is some remnant of the prim- 
tive man, which we all carry about with us. He has 
iLOt yet forgotten his wild, free life, his arboreal habi- 
tations, and the sweet-bitter times he had in those 
long-gone ages. With me, he wakes up directly at 
ehe smell of smoke, of burning branches in the open 
lir ; and all his old love of fire and dependence upon 
t, in the camp or the cave, comes freshly to mind. 

On resuming our march, we filed off along a 



28 



WINTER SUXSHIXE. 



charming wood-path — a regular little tunnel through 
the dense pines, carpeted with silence, and allowing 
us to look nearly the whole length of it through its 
Boft green twilight out into the open sunshine of the 
fields beyond. A pine wood in Maryland or in Vir- 
ginia is quite a different tiling from a pine wood in 
Maine or ^Minnesota — the difference, in fact, be- 
tween yellow pine and white. The former, as it 
grows hereabout, is short and scrubby, with branches 
nearly to the ground, and looks like the dwindling 
remnant of a greater race. 

Beyond the woods, the path led us by a colored 
man's habitation — a little, low frame house, on a 
knoll, surrounded by the quamt deyices and rude 
makeshifts of these quaint and rude people. A few 
poles stuck in the ground, clapboarded with cedar- 
boughs and corn-stalks, and supporting a roof of the 
same, gaye shelter to a rickety one-horse wagon and 
some farm implements. Near this there was a large, 
compact tent, made entirely of corn-stalks, with, for 
door, a bundle of the same, in the dry, warm, nest- 
like interior of which the husking of the corn crop 
eeemed to have taken place. A few rods farther on, 
we passed through another humble door-yard, musi- 
cal with dogs and dusky with children. We crossed 
Here the outlying fields of a large, thrifty, well-kept- 
looking fiirm with a showy, highly ornamental frame 
house in the centre. There was eyen a park with 
deer, and among the gayly painted out-buildings I 
aoticed a fancy doye-cot^ with an immense flock 0/ 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



29 



ioves circling above it, — some whiskey-dealer from 
the city, we w^ere told, trying to take the poison out 
of his money by agriculture. 

We' next passed through some woods, w^hen we 
emerged into a broad, sunlit, fertile-looking valley, 
called Oxen Run. We stooped down and drank of 
its clear white-pebbled stream, in the veritable spot I 
suspect where the oxen do. There were clouds of 
birds here on the warm slopes, with the usual sprink- 
ling along the bushy margin of the stream of scarlet 
grossbeaks. The valley of Oxen Hun has many 
good-looking farms, wdth old picturesque houses, and 
loose rambling barns, such as artists love to put into 
pictures. 

But it is a little awkward to go east. It always 
seems left-handed. I think this is the feeling of all 
walkers, and that Thoreau's experience in this re- 
Bpect was not singular. The great magnet is the 
sun, and we follow him. I notice that people lost in 
the woods work to the westward. When one come^ 
out of his house and asks himself " Which way shall 
I walk ? " and looks up and down and around for a 
sign or a token, does he not nine times out of ten 
turn to the west ? He inclines this w^ay as surely as 
the willow wand bends toward the water. There is 
something more genial and friendly in this direc- 
tion. 

Occasionally in winter I experience a southern in- 
clination, and cross Long Bridge and rendezvous for 
the day in some old earth-work on the Virginia hills. 



30 



WINTER SUNSHINE. 



The roads are not so inviting in this direction, but 
the line oi' old forts with rabbits burrowing in the 
bomb-proofs, and a magazine, or officers' quarters 
turned into a cow stable by colored squatters, form 
an interesting feature. But whichever way I go I 
am glad I came. All roads lead up to the Jerusalem 
the walker seeks. There is everywhere the vigorous 
and masculine winter air, and the impalpable suste- 
nance the mind draws from all natural forms. 



THE EXHITARATIONS OF THE 
ROAD. 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



AfoC't and light-hearted I take to the open- road. — Whitman. 

Occasionally on the sidewalk, amid the dapper, 
Bwiftly-moving, high-heeled boots and gaiters, I catch 
a glimpse of the naked human foot. Nimbly it scuffs 
aloDg, the toes spread, the sides flatten, the heel pro- 
tudes ; it grasps the curbing, or bends to the form ol 
the uneven surfaces, — a thing sensuous and alive, 
that seems to take cognizance of whatever it touches 
or passes. How primitive and uncivil it looks in such 
company, — a real barbarian in the parlor. We are 
so unused to the human anatomy, to simple, un- 
adorned nature, that it looks a little repulsive ; but it 
is beautiful for all that. Though it be a black foot 
and an unwashed foot, it shall be exalted. It is a 
thin^ of life amid leather, a free spirit amid cramped, 
a wild bird amid caged, an athlete amid consumptives. 
It is the symbol of my order, the Order of Walkers. 
That unhampered, vitally playing piece of anatomy is 
the type of the pedestrian, man returned to first princi- 
ples, in direct contact and intercourse with the earth 
and the elements, his faculties unsheathed, his mind 
plastic, his body toughened, his heart light, his son] 
a 



34 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



dilated : while those cramped and distorted members 
in the calf and kid are the unfortunate wretches 
doomed to carriages and cushions. 

I am not going to advocate the disuse of boots and 
shoes, or the abandoning of the improved modes of 
travel ; but I am going to brag as lustily as I can on 
behalf of the pedestrian, and show how all the shin- 
ing angels second and accompany the man who goes 
afoot, while all the dark spirits are ever looking out 
for a chance to ride. 

When I see the discomforts that able-bodied Amer- 
ican men will put up with rather than go a mile or 
half a mile on foot, the abuses they will tolerate and 
encourage, crowding the street car on a little fall in 
the temperature or the appearance of an inch or two 
of snow, packing up to overflowing, dangling to the 
straps, treading on each other's toes, breathing each 
other's breaths, crushing the women and children, 
hanging by tooth and nail to a square inch of the plat- 
form, imperiling their limbs and killing the horses, 
— I think the commonest tramp in the street has 
good reason to felicitate himself on his rare privilege 
of going afoot. Indeed, a race that neglects or de- 
spises this primitive gift, that fears the touch of the 
soil, that has no foot-paths, no community of ownership 
in the land which they imply, that warns off the 
walker as a trespasser, that knows no way hut the 
highway, the carriage-way, that forgets the stile, the 
foot-bridge, that even ignores the rights of the pedes- 
trian in the public road, providing no escape for hino 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



35 



but in the ditch or up the bank, is in a fair way to 
'ar more serious degeneracy. 

Shakespeare makes the chief qualification of the 
walker a merry heart : — 

** Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way, 
And merrily hent the stile-a ; 
A merry heart goes all the day, 
Your sad tires in a mile-a." 

The human body is a steed that goes freest and 
longest under a light rider, and the lightest of all riders 
is a cheerful heart. Your sad, or morose, or embit- 
tered, or preoccupied heart settles heavily into the 
saddle, and the poor beast, the body, breaks down 
the first mile. Indeed, the heaviest thing in the 
world is a heavy heart. Next to that the most bur- 
densome to the walker is a heart not in perfect sym- 
pathy and accord with the body — a reluctant or un- 
willing heart. The horse and rider must not only 
both be willing to go the same way, but the rider must 
.ead the way and infuse his own lightness and eager- 
ness into the steed. Herein is no doubt our trouble 
and one reason of the decay of the noble art in this 
country. We are unwilling walkers. We are not 
innocent and simple-hearted enough to enjoy a walk. 
We have fallen from that state of grace which capacity 
to enjoy a walk implies. It cannot be said that as a 
people we are so positively sad, or morose, or melan- 
cholic as that we are vacant or that sportiveness and 
surplusage of animal spirits that characterized our an- 
^stors, and that springs frorn full and harmonioof 



36 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



life, — u sound heart in accord with a sound body 
A man must invest himself neai at hand and in com- 
mon things, and be content with a steady and moder* 
ate return, if he would know the blessedness of a 
cheerful heart and the sweetness of a walk over the 
round earth. This is a lesson the American has yet 
to learn, — capability of amusement on a low key. 
He expects rapid and extraordinary returns. He 
would make the very elemental laws pay usury. He 
has nothing to invest in a walk; it is too slow, too 
cheap. We crave the astonishing, the exciting, the 
far away, and do not know the highways of the gods 
when we see them, — always a sign of the decay of 
the faith and simplicity of man. 

If I say to my neighbor, " Come with me, I have 
great wonders to show you," he pricks up his ears and 
comes forthwith ; but when I take him on the hills 
under the full blaze of the sun, or along the country 
road, our footsteps lighted by the moon and stars, and 
say to him, " Behold, these are the wonders, these are 
the circuits of the gods, this we now tread is a morn- 
ing star," he feels defrauded, and as if I had played him 
a trick. And yet nothing less than dilatation and en- 
thusiasm like this is the badge of the master walker. 

If we are not sad, we are careworn, hurried, discon- 
tented, mortgaging the present for the promise oi 
the future. If we take a walk, it is as we take a pre- 
scription, with about the same relish and w^ith ab<>ut 
the same purpose ; and the more the fatigue tht 
gieater our faith in the virtue of the medicine. 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



Of those gleesome saunters over the hills in spungy 
or those sallies of the body in winter, those excursiona 
Into space when the foot strikes fire at every step, 
when the air tastes like a new and finer mixture, 
when we accumulate force and gladness as we go 
along, when the sight of objects by the roadside and 
of the fields and woods pleases more than pictures 
or than all the art in the world, — those ten or 
twelve mile dashes that are but the wit and effluence 
of the corporeal powers, — of ^ucli diversion and 
open road entertainment, I say, most of us know very 
little. 

I notice with astonishment that at our fashionable 
watering-places nobody walks ; that of all those vast 
crowds of health-seekers and lovers of country air, 
you can never catch one in the fields or woods, or 
guilty of trudging along the country road with dust 
on his shoes and sun-tan on his hands and face. The 
sole amusement seems to be to eat and dress and sit 
about the hotels and glare at each other. The men 
look bored, the women look tired, and all seem to 
sigh, " O Lord ! what shall we do to be happy and 
not be vulgar?" Quite different from our British 
cousins across the water, who have plenty of, amuse- 
ment and hilarity, spending most of the time at 
their watering-places in the open air, strolling, pic- 
nicking, boating, climbing, briskly walking, appar- 
')ntly with little fear of sun-tan or of compromising 
heir "gentility." 

It is Indeed astonishing with what ease and hilaritj 



38 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



the English walk. To an American it seems a kind 
of infatuation. When Dickens was in this country 
I imagine the aspirants to the honor of a walk with 
him were not numerous. In a pedestrian tour of 
England by an American, I read that " after break- 
fast with the Independent minister, he walked with 
us for six miles out of town upon our road. Three 
little boys and girls, the youngest six years old, also 
accompanied us. They were romping and rambling 
about all the while, and their morning walk must 
have been as much as fifteen miles ; but they thought 
nothing of it, and when we parted were apparently 
as fresh as when they started, and very loath to 
return." 

I fear, also, the American is becoming disqualified 
for the manly art of walking, by a falling off in the 
size of his foot. He cherishes and cultivates this part 
of his anatomy, and apparently thinks his taste and 
good breeding are to be inferred from its diminutive 
size. A small, trim foot, well booted or gaitered, is 
the national vanity. How we stare at the big feet 
of foreigners, and wonder what may be the price ol 
leather in those countries, and where all the aristo- 
cratic blood is, that these plebeian extremities so pre- 
dominate. If we were admitted to the confidences of 
the shoemaker to Her Majesty or to His Royal High- 
v.ess, no doubt we would modify our views upon this 
latter point, for a truly large and royal nature is nevei 
Stunted in the extremities; a little foot never 
lupported a great character. 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 3& 



It is said that Englishmen when they first come to 
Ais country are for some time under the impression 
that American women all have deformed feet, they 
are so coy of them and so studiously careful to keep 
them hid. That there is an astonishing difference 
between the women of the two countries in this re- 
Bpect, every traveler can testify ; and that there is 
a difference equally astonishing between the pedes- 
trian habits and capabilities of the rival sisters, is also 
certain. 

The English pedestrian, no doubt, has the advan- 
tage of us in the matter of climate ; for, notwithstand- 
ing the traditional gloom and moroseness of English 
skies, they have in that country none of those relaxing, 
sinking, enervating days, of which we have so many 
here, and which seem especially trying to the female 
constitution — days which withdraw all support from 
the back and loins, and render walking of all things 
burdensome. Theirs is a climate of which it has been 
said that it invites men abroad more days in the year 
and more hours in the day than that of any other 
country." 

Then their land is threaded with paths which invite 
the walker, and which are scarcely less important than 
the highways. I heard of a surly nobleman near Lon- 
Ion who took it into his head to close a foot-path that 
passed through his estate near his house, and open 
another one a little farther off. Tha pedestrians ob- 
iccted; the matter got into the courts, and after pio- 
tracted litigation the aristocrat was beaten. The path 



lO THE EXniLARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



2ould not be closed or moved. The memory of maw 
ran not to the time when there was not a foot-path 
there, and every pedestrian should have the right of 
way there still. 

I remember the pleasure I had in the path that con- 
nects Stratford-on-Avon with Shottery, Shakespeare's 
path when he went courting Anne Hathaway. By 
the king's highway the distance is some farther, so 
there is a well-worn path along the hedgerows and 
through the meadows and turnip-patches. The trav- 
eler in it has the privilege of crossing the railroad 
track, an unsual privilege in England, and one de- 
nied to the lord in his carriage, who must either go 
over or under it. (It is a privilege, is it not, to be 
allowed the forbidden, even if it be the privilege of 
being run over by the engine ?) In strolling over the 
South Downs, too, I was delighted to find that where 
the hill was steepest some benefactor of the order of 
walkers had made notches in the sward, so that the 
foot could bite the better and firmer ; the path became 
a kind of stairway, which I have no doubt the plow- 
man respected. 

When you see an English country church with- 
drawn, secluded, out of the reach of wheels, standing 
amid grassy graves and surrounded by noble trees, ap- 
proached by paths and shaded lanes, you appreciate 
nc.ore than ever this beautiful habit of the people 
Only a race that knows how to use its feet, and holds 
•bot-paths sacred, could put such a charm of privacy 
Mid humility into such a structure. I think I should 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 41 



De tempted to go to church myself if I saw all my 
neighbors starting off across the fields or along paths 
that led to such charmed spots, and was sure I would 
not be jostled or run over by the rival chariots of the 
worshipers at the temple doors. I think this is what 
ails our religion ; humility and devoutness of heart 
leave one when he lays by his walking shoes and 
walking clothes, and sets out for church drawn by 
something. 

Indeed, I think it would be tantamount to an as- 
tonishing revival of religion if the people would all 
walk to church on Sunday and walk home again. 
Think how the stones would preach to them by the 
wayside ; how their benumbed minds would warm up 
beneath the friction of the gravel ; how their vain 
and foolish thoughts, their desponding thoughts, their 
besetting demons of one kind and another, would drop 
behind them, unable to keep up or to endure the fresh 
air. They would walk away from their ennui, their 
worldly cares, their uncharitableness, their pride of 
iress : for these devils always want to ride, while the 
wmple virtues are never so happy as when on foot 
Let us walk by all means ; but if we will ride, get an 
ass. 

Then the English claim that they are a more hearty 
and robust people than we are. It is certain they 
are a plainer people, have plaine;* tastes, dress plainer, 
onild plainer, speak plainer, keep closer to facts, wear 
troader shoes and coarser clothes, place a lower esti 
mate on themselves, etc. — all of which iraits &vor 



12 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



pedestrian habits. The English grandee is not con- 
fined to his carriage ; but if the American aristocrat 
leaves his, he is ruined. Oh, the weariness, the emp- 
tiness, the plotting, the seeking rest and finding 
none, that goes by in the carriages ! while your |)e- 
destrian is always cheerful, alert, refreshed, with his 
heart in his hand and his hand free to all. He looks 
down upon nobody ; he is on the common levels 
His pores are all open, his circulation is active, his 
digestion good. His heart is not cold, nor his facul- 
ties asleep. He is the only real traveler ; he alone 
tastes the " gay, fresh sentiment of the road." He is 
not isolated, but one with things, with the farms and 
industries on either hand. The vital, universal cur- 
rents play through him. He knows the ground is 
alive ; he feels the pulses of the wind, and reads the 
mute language of things. His sympathies are all 
aroused ; his senses are continually reporting mes- 
sages to his mind. Wind, frost, rain, heat, cold, are 
something to him. He is not merely a spectator of 
the panorama of nature, but a participator in it. He 
experiences the country he passes through — tastes 
it, feels it, absorbs it ; the traveler in his fine carriage 
rtees it merely. This gives the fresh charm to that 
class of books that may be called " Views Afoot," 
and to the narratives of hunters, naturalists, explor- 
ing parties, etc. The walker does not need a large 
territory. When you get into a railway car you 
want a continent, the man in his carriage requires a 
xownsliip ; but a walker like Thoreau finds as much 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 43 



%nd more along the shores of Walden Pond. The 
former, as it were, has merely time to glance at the 
headings of the chapters, while the latter need not 
miss a line, and Thoreau reads between the lines. 
Then the walker has the privilege of the fields, the 
woods, the hills, the by-ways. The apples by the 
roadside are for him, and the berries, and the spring 
of water, and the friendly shelter; and if the weather 
is cold, he eats the frost grapes and the persimmons, 
or even the white meated turnip, snatched from the 
field he passed through, with incredible relish. 

Afoot and in the open road, one has a fair start in 
iife at last. There is no hindrance now. Let him 
put his best foot forward. He is on the broadest 
human plane. This is on the level of all the great 
laws and heroic deeds. From this platform he is eli- 
gible to any good fortune. He was sighing for the 
golden age ; let him walk to it. Every step brings 
him nearer. The youth of the world is but a few 
days' journey distant. Indeed, I know persons who 
think they have walked back to that fresh aforetime 
of a single bright Sunday in autumn or early spring. 
Before noon they felt its airs upon their cheeks, and 
by nightfall, on the banks of some quiet stream, or 
along some path in the wood, or on some hill-top, 
aver they have heard the voices and felt the wonder 
and the mystery that so enchanted the early races 
of men. 

I think if I could walk through a country I should 
tot only see many things and have adventures that 1 



44 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



should otherwise miss, but that I should come into re- 
lations with that country at first hand, and with the 
men and women in it, in a way that would afford the 
deepest satisfaction. Hence I envy the good fortune 
of all walkers, and feel like joining myself to every 
tramp that comes along. I am jealous of the clergy - 
man I read about the other day who footed it from 
Edinburgh to London, as poor Effie Deans did, cai • 
rying her shoes in her hand most of the way, and 
over the ground that rugged Ben Jonson strode^ 
larking it to Scotland, so long ago. I read with long- 
ing of the pedestrian feats of college youths, so gay 
and light-hearted, with their coarse shoes on their feet 
and their knapsacks on their backs. It would have 
been a good draught of the rugged cup to have 
walked with Wilson the ornithologist, deserted by 
his companions, from Niagara to Philadelphia through 
the snows of winter. I almost wish that I had been 
born to the career of a German mechanic, that I 
might have had that delicious adventurous year of 
wandering over my country before I settled down to 
work. I think how much richer and firmer grained 
life w^ould be to me if I could journey afoot through 
Florida and Texas, or follow the windings of the 
Platte or the Yellowstone, or stroll through Oregon, 
^ or brow^se for a season about Canada. In the bright 
inspiring days of autumn I only want the time and 
the companion to walk back to the natal spot, thf 
^mily nest, across two States and into the mountains 
»t a third. What adventures we would have by th« 



THE EXHILARA.TIONS OF THE ROAD. 45 



way, what hard pulls, what prospects from hills, what 
spectacles we would behold of night and day, what 
passages with dogs, what glances, what peeps into 
windows, what characters we should fall in with, and 
how seasoned and hardy we should arrive at our des- 
tination ! 

For companion I should want a veteran of the 
war ! Those marches put something into him I 
like. Even at this distance his mettle is but little 
softened. As soon as he gets warmed up it all comes 
back to him. He catches your step and away you 
go, a gay, adventurous, half predatory couple. How 
quickly he falls into the old ways of jest and anecdote 
and song ! You may have known him for years with- 
out having heard him hum an airj'^or more than cas- 
ually revert to the subject of his experience during 
the war. You have even questioned and cross-ques- 
tioned him without firing the train you wished. But 
get him out on a vacation tramp, and you can walk 
it all out of him. By the camp fire at night or swing- 
ing along the streams by day, song, anecdote, advent- 
ure, come to the surface, and you wonder how your 
companion has kept silent so long. 

It is another proof of how walking brings out the 
true character of a man. The devil never yet asked 
his victims to take a walk with him. You will not 
be long in finding your companion out. All dis- 
guises will fall away from him. As his pores open 
his character is laid bare. His deepest and most 
private self will come to ^he top. It matters little 



46 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



whom you ride with, so he be not a pickpocket ; for 
both of you will, very likely, settle down closer and 
firmer in your reserve, shaken down like a measure 
of corn by the jolting as the journey proceeds. But 
walking is a more vital copartnership ; the relation is 
a closer and more sympathetic one, and you do not 
feel like walking ten paces with a stranger without 
speaking to him. 

Hence the fastidiousness of the professional walker 
in choosing or admitting a companion, and hence the 
truth of a remark of Emerson that you will generally 
fare better to take your dog than to invite your 
neighbor. You cur-dog is a true pedestrian, and 
your neighbor is very likely a small politician. The 
dog enters thoroughly into the spirit of the enter- 
prise ; he is not indifferent or preoccupied ; he is con- 
stantly sniffing adventure, laps at every spring, looks 
upon every field and wood as a new world to be ex- 
plored, is ever on some fresh trail, knows something 
important will happen a little farther on, gazes with 
the true wonder-seeing eyes, whatever the spot or 
whatever the road finds it good to be there — in 
short, is just that happy, delicious, excursive vaga- 
bond that touches one at so many points, and whose 
human prototype in a companion robs miles and 
leagues of half their power to fatigue. 

Persons who find themselves spent in a short walk 
to the market or the post-office, or to do a little shop- 
ping, wonder how it is that their pedestrian frienda 
W) compass so many weary miles and not fall dowr 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 47 



from sheer exhaustion ; ignorant of the fact that the 
walker is a kind of projectile that drops far or near 
according to the expansive force of the motive that 
Bet it in motion, and that it is easy enough to regulate 
the charge according to the distance to be traversed 
If I am loaded to carry only one mile and am com- 
pelled to walk three, I generally feel more fatigue 
than if I had walked six under the proper impetus of 
preadjusted resolution. In other words, the will or 
corporeal mainspring, whatever it be, is capable of be- 
ing wound up to different degrees of tension, so that 
one may walk all day nearly as easy as half that time 
if he is prepared beforehand. He knows his task, 
and he measures and distributes his powers accord- 
ingly. It is for this reason that an unknown road is 
always a long road. We cannot cast the mental eye 
along it and see the end from the beginning. We 
are fighting in the dark, and cannot take the measure 
of our foe. Every step must be preordained and 
provided for in the mind. Hence also the fact that 
to vanquish one mile in the woods seems equal to 
compassing three in the open country. The furlongs 
are ambushed, and we magnify them. 

Then, again, how annoying to be told it is only 
five miles to the next place when it is really eight or 
ten ! We fall short nearly half the distance, and are 
compelled to urge and roll the spent ball the rest of 
the way. 

In such a case walking degenerates from a fine art 
to a mechanic art ; we walk merely ; to get over 



48 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE KOAD. 



the groimd becomes the one serious and engrossing 
thought ; whereas success in walking is not to let 
your right foot know what your left foot doeth. 
Your heart must fiirnish such music that in keeping 
time to it your feet will carry you around the globe 
without knowing it. The walker I would describe 
takes no note of distance ; his walk is a sally, a bon- 
mot,3iJi unspoken y^z^ d' esprit ; the ground is his butt, 
his provocation ; it furnishes him the resistance his 
body craves ; he rebounds upon it, he glances off and 
returns aorain, and uses it cfavlv as his tool. 

I do not think I exaggerate the importance or the 
charms of pedestrianism, or our need as a people to 
cultivate the art, I think it would tend to soften the 
national manners, to teach us the meaning of leisure, 
to acquaint us with the charms of the open air, to 
strengthen and foster the tie between the race and 
the land. Xo one else looks out upon the world so 
kindly and charitably as the pedestrian ; no one else 
gives and takes so much from the country he passes 
through. Next to the laborer in the fields, the 
walker holds the closest relation to the soil ; and he 
bolds a closer and more vital relation to Xature be- 
cause he is freer and his mind more at leisure. 

Man takes root at his feet, and at best he is no 
more than a potted plant in his house or carriage, till 
he has established communication with the soil by the 
'oving and magnetic touch of his soles to it. Then 
the tie of association is bom ; then spring those in 
visible fibres and rootlets through which character 



THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 49 



jomes to smack of the soil, and which make a man 
kindred to the spot of earth he inhabits. 

The roads and paths you have walked along in 
summer and winter weather, the fields and hills which 
you have looked upon in lightness and gladness of 
heart, where fresh thoughts have come into your 
mind, or some noble prospect has opened before you, 
and especially the quiet ways where you have walked 
in sweet converse with your friend, pausing under the 
trees, drinking at the spring — henceforth they are 
not the same ; a new charm is added ; those thoughts 
spring there perennial, your friend walks there for- 
ever. 

We have produced some good walkers and saun- 
terers, and some noted climbers ; but as a staple rec- 
reation, as a daily practice, the mass of the people 
dislike and despise walking. Thoreau said he was a 
good horse, but a poor roadster. I chant the virtues 
of the roadster as well. I sing of the sweetness of 
gravel, good sharp quartz-grit. It is the proper con- 
diment for the sterner seasons, and many a human 
gizzard would be cured of half its ills by a suitable 
daily allowance of it. I think Thoreau himself 
would have profited immensely by it. His diet was 
too exclusively vegetable. A man cannot live on 
grass alone. If one has been a lotus-eater all sum- 
mer, he must turn gravel-eater in the fall and winter. 
Those who have tried it know that gravel possesses 
an equal though an opposite charm. It Jipurs to ao 
tion. The foot tastes it and henceforth re?t» not 
4 



50 THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD. 



The joy of moving and surmounting, of attrition and 
progression, the thirst for space, for miles and leagues 
of distance, for sights and prospects, to cross mount- 
ains and thread rivers, and defy frost, heat, snow, 
danger, difficulties, seizes it ; and from that day forth 
its possessor is enrolled in the nohle army of walkers. 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



He who marvels at the beauty of the world in 
Bummer will find equal cause for wonder and admira- 
tion in winter. It is true the pomp and the pageantry 
are swept away, but the essential elements remain, — 
the day and the night, the mountain and the valley, 
the elemental play and succession and the perpetual 
presence of the infinite sky. In winter the stars 
seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves 
a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a 
more exalted simplicity. Summer is more wooing 
and seductive, more versatile and human, appeals to 
the affections and the sentiments, and fosters inquiry 
and the art impulse. Winter is of a more heroic 
cast, and addresses the intellect. The severe studies 
and disciplines come easier in winter. One imposes 
larger tasks upon himself, and is less tolerant of his 
own weaknesses. 

The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is 
more developed ii? winter; the fleshy, in summer. I 
should say winter had given the bone and sinew to 
Literature, summer the tissues and blood. 

The simplicity of winter has a deep iioral. T^« 



54 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



return of Nature, after such a career of splendor and 
prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not 
lost either upon the head or the heart It is the 
philosopher coming back from the banquet and the 
wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread. 

And then this beautiful masquerade of the ele- 
ments, — the novel disguises our nearest friends put 
on ! Here is another rain and another dew, water 
that will not flow, nor spill, nor receive the taint of 
an unclean vessel. And if we see truly, the same old 
beneficence and willingness to serve lurk beneath all. 

Look up at the miracle of the falling snow, — the 
air a dizzy maze of whirling, eddying flakes, noise- 
lessly transforming the world, the exquisite crystals 
dropping in ditch and gutter, and disguising in the 
game suit of spotless livery all objects upon which 
they fall. How novel and fine the first drifts ! The 
old, dilapidated fence is suddenly set off with the 
most fantastic ruffles, scalloped and fluted after an 
unheard-of fashion ! Looking down a long line of 
decrepit stone-wall, in the trimming of which the 
wind had fairly run riot, I saw, as for the first time, 
what a severe yet master artist old Winter is. Ah, 
ii severe artist! How stern the woods look, dark 
and cold and as rigid against the horizon as iron ! 

All life and action tipon the snow have an added 
emphasis and significance. Every expression is un- 
derscored. Summer has few finer pictures than this 
winter one of the farmer foddering his cattle fi'om a 
itack upon the clean snow, — the movement, the 



THE SXOW-WALKERS. 



55 



sharply-defined figures, the graat green flakes of hay 
the long file of patient cows, — the advance just ar- 
riving and pressing eagerly for the choicest morsels, 
and the bounty and providence it suggests. Or the 
chopper in the woods — the prostrate tree, the white 
new chips scattered about, his easy triumph over the 
cold, coat hanging to a limb, and the clear, sharp ring 
of his axe. The woods are rigid and tense, keyed 
up by the frost, and resound like a stringed instru- 
ment. Or the road-breakers, sallying forth with oxen 
and sleds in the still, white world, the day after the 
Btorm, to restore the lost track and demolish the be- 
leaguering drifts. 

All sounds are sharper in winter ; the air transmits 
better. At night I hear more distinctly the steady 
roar of the North Mountain. In summer it is a sort 
of complacent purr, as the breezes stroke down its 
sides ; but in winter always the same low, sullen 
growl. 

A severe artist ! No longer the canvas and the 
pigments, but the marble and the chisel. When the 
nights are calm and the moon full, I go out to gaze 
upon the wonderful purity of the moonlight and the 
snow. The air is full of latent fire, and the cold 
warms me — after a different fashion from that of the 
kitchen stove. The world lies about me in a "trance 
of snow." The clouds are pearly and iridescent, and 
Beom the farthest possible remove from the condition 
of a storm, — the ghosts of clouds, tlie indwelling 
beauty freed from all dross. I see the hills, bulging 



56 



THE SXOW-WALKERS. 



with great drifts, lift theras elves up cold and white 
against the sky^ tlie black lines of fences here and 
there obliterated by the depth of the snow. Pres- 
ently a fox barks away up next the mountain, and I 
imagine I can almost see him sitting there, in his 
furs, upon the illuminated surface, and looking down 
in my direction. As I listen, one answers him from 
behind the woods in the valley. What a wild winter 
sound, — wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills. 
Since the wolf has ceased to howl upon these mount- 
ains, and the panther to scream, there is nothing to 
be compared with it. So wild ! I get up in the mid- 
dle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the 
ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures 
are among us. At this season Nature makes the 
most of every throb of life that can withstand her 
severity. How heartily she indorses this fox ! In 
what bold relief stand out the lives of all walkers of 
the snow ! The snow is a great tell-tale, and blabs 
as effectually as it obliterates. I go into the woods, 
and know all that has happened. I cross the fields, 
and if only a mouse has visited his neighbor, the fact 
is chronicled. 

The red fox is the only species that abounds in 
my locality ; the little gray fox seems to prefer a 
more rocky and precipitous country, and a less rigor- 
ous climate ; the cross fox is occasionally seen, and 
there are traditions of the silver gray among the old- 
est hunters. But the red fox is the sportsman's 
prize, and the only fur-bearer worthy of note in thew 



THE SNOW- -WALKERS. 



57 



oiountains.^ I go out in the morning, after a fresh 
fall of snow, and see at all points where he has 
crossed the road. Here he has leisurely passed 
within rifle-range of the house, evidently reconnoi 
tring the premises, with an eye to the hen-roost. 
That clear, sharp track, — there is no mistaking it 
for the clumsy foot-print of a little dog. All his 
wildness and agility are photographed in it. Here 
he has taken fright, or suddenly recollected an en- 
gagement^ and in long, graceful leaps, barely touch- 
ing the fence, has gone careering up the hill as fleet 
as the wind. 

The wild, buoyant creature, how beautiful he is ! 
I had often seen his dead carcass, and, at a distance, 
had witnessed the hounds drive him across the upper 
fields ; but the thrill and excitement of meeting him 
in his wild freedom in the woods were unknown to 
me, till, one cold winter day, drawn thither by the 
baying of a hound, I stood near the summit of the 
mountain, waiting a renewal of the sound, that I 
might determine the course of the dog and choose 
my position, — stimulated by the ambition of all 
young Nimrods, to bag some notable game. Long I 
waited, and patiently, till, chilled and benumbed, I 
was about to turn back, when, hearing a slight noise, 
I looked up and beheld a most superb fox, loping 
along with inimitable grace and ease, evidently dis- 
turbed, but not pursued by the hound, and so ab 
loibed in his private meditations that he failed to see 
1 A spur of the Catskills. 



68 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



me, though I stood transfixed with amazement and 
admiration, not ten yards distant. I took his meas- 
ure at a glance, — a large male, with dark legs, and 
massive tail tipped with white, — a most magnifi- 
cent creature ; but so astonished and fascinated was 
I by this sudden appearance and matchless beauty, 
that not till I had caught the last glimpse of him, 
as he disappeared over a knoll, did 1 awake to my 
duty as a sportsman, and realize what an opportunity 
to distinguish myself I had unconsciously let slip. I 
clutched my gun, half angrily, as if it was to blame, 
and went home out of humor with myself and all fox- 
kind. But I have since thought better of the expe- 
rience, and concluded that I bagged the game after 
all, the best part of it, and fleeced Reynard of some- 
thing more valuable than his fur, without his knowl- 
edge. 

This is thoroughly a winter sound, — this voice of 
the hound upon the mountain, — and one that is 
music to many ears. The long trumpet-like bay, 
heard for a mile or more, — now faintly back to the 
deep recesses of the mountain, — now distinct, but 
still faint, as the hound comes over some prominent 
point, and the wind favors, — anon entirely lost in 
the gully, — then breaking out again much nearer, 
and growing more and more pronounced as the dog 
approaches, till, when he comes around the brow of 
the mountain, directly above you, the barking is loud 
and sharp. On he goes along the northern spur, his 
voice rising and sinking as the wind and lay of the 
ijround modify it, till lost to hearing. 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



59 



The fox usually keeps half a mile ahead, regulating 
his speed by that of the hound, occasionally pausing a 
moment to divert himself with a mouse, or to contem- 
plate the landscape, or to listen for his pursuer. If 
the hound press him too closely, he leads off from 
mountain to mountain, and so generally escapes the 
hunter ; but if the pursuit be slow, he plays about 
some ridge or peak, and falls a prey, though not an 
easy one, to the experienced sportsman. 

A most spiriting and excited chase occurs when the 
farm-dog gets close upon one in the open field, as 
sometimes happens in the early morning. The fox 
relies so confidently upon his superior speed, that 1 
imagine he half tempts the dog to the race. But if 
the dog be a smart one, and their course lies down 
hill, over smooth ground, Reynard must put his best 
foot forward ; and then, sometimes, suffer the igno- 
miny of being run over by his pursuer, who, how- 
ever, is quite unable to pick him up, owing to the 
speed. But when they mount the hill, or enter the 
woods, the superior nimbleness and agility of the fox 
tell at once, and he easily leaves the dog far in his 
tear. For a cur less than his own size he manifests 
little fear, especially if the two meet alone, remote 
from the house. In such cases, I have seen first one 
urn tail, then the other. 

A novel spectacle often occurs in summer, when the 
^rnale has young. You are rambling on the mount- 
nin, accompanied by your dog, when you are startled 
Sj that wild, half-threatening squall, and in a momeo 



60 



THE SNOW -WALKER3. 



perceive your dog, with inverted tail, and shame and 
confusion in his looks, sneaking toward you, the old 
fox but a few rods in his rear. You speak to hi in 
sharply, when he bristles up, turns about, and, bark- 
ing, starts off vigorously, as if to wipe out the dis- 
honor ; but in a moment comes sneaking back more 
abashed than ever, and owns himself unworthy to be 
called a dog. The fox fairly shames him out of the 
woods. The secret of the matter is her sex, though 
her conduct, for the honor of the fox be it said, seems 
to be prompted only by solicitude for the safety of 
her young. 

One of the most notable features of the fox is his 
large and massive tail. Seen running on the snow 
at a distance, his tail is quite as conspicuous as his 
body ; and, so far from appearing a burden, seems to 
contribute to his lightness and buoyancy. It softens 
the outline of his movements, and repeats or contin- 
ues to the eye the ease and poise of his carriage. 
But, pursued by the hound on a wet, thawy day it 
often becomes so heavy and bedraggled as to prove 
a serious inconvenience, and compels him to take 
refuge in his den. He is very loath to do this ; both 
his pride and the traditions of his race stimulate him 
to run it out, and win by fair superiority of wind and 
speed ; and only a wound or a heavy and moppish 
tail will drive him to avoid the issue in this manner. 

To learn his surpassing shrewdness and cunning, 
attempt to take him with a trap. Rogue that he is, 
he -always suspects some trick, and one must be more 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



61 



of a fox than he is himself to oven each him. At 
first sight it would appear easy enough. With ap- 
parent indiflference he crosses your path, or walks in 
your footsteps in the field, or travels along the beaten 
highway, or lingers in the vicinity of stacks and re- 
mote barns. Carry the carcass of a pig, or a fowl, or 
a dog, to a distant field in midwinter, and in a few 
nights his tracks cover the snow about it. 

The inexperienced country youth, misled by this 
seeming carelessness of Reynard,' suddenly conceives 
a project to enrich himself with fur, and wonders that 
the idea has not occurred to him before, and to others. 
I knew a youthful yeoman of this kind, who imag- 
ined he had found a mine of wealth on discovering 
on a remote side-hill, between two woods, a dead 
porker, upon which it appeared all the foxes of the 
neighborhood had nightly banqueted. The clouds 
were burdened with snow ; and as the first flakes 
commenced to eddy down, he set out, trap and broom 
in hand, already counting over in imagination the 
silver quarters he would receive for his first fox-skin. 
With the utmost care, and with a palpitating heart, 
he re^ioved enough of the trodden snow to allow ths 
trap to sink below the surface. Then, carefully sift- 
ing the light element over it and sweeping his tracks 
full, he quickly withdrew, laughing exultingly over 
the little surprise he had prepared for the cunning 
rogue. The elements conspired to aid him, and the 
falling snow rapidly obliterated all vestiges of his 
urork. The next morning at dawn, he was on hi< 



62 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



way to bring in his fur. The snow had done ita 
work effectually, and, he believed, had kept his secret 
well. Arrived in sight of the locality, he strained 
his vision to make out his prize lodged against the 
lence at the foot of the hill. Approaching nearer, 
the surface was unbroken, and doubt usurped the 
place of certainty in his mind. A slight mound 
marked the site of the porker, but there was no 
foot-print near it. Looking up the hill, he saw where 
Reynard had walked leisurely down toward his 
wonted bacon till within a few yards of it, when he 
had wheeled, and with prodigious strides disappeared 
in the woods. The young trapper saw at a glance 
what a comment this was upon his skill in the art, 
and indignantly exhuming the iron, he walked home 
with it, the stream of silver quarters suddenly setting 
in another direction. 

The successful trapper commences in the fall, or 
before the first deep snow. In a field not too re- 
mote, with an old axe, he cuts a small place, say ten 
inches by fourteen, in the frozen ground, and removes 
the earth to the depth of three or four inches, then 
fills the cavity with dry ashes, in which are placea 
bits of roasted cheese. Reynard is very suspicious 
at first, and gives the place a wide berth. It looks 
like design, and he will see how the thing behaves 
before he approaches too near. But the cheese ir 
savory and the cold severe. He ventures a little 
closer every night, until he can reach and pick a 
piece from the surface. Emboldened by success, like 



TKE SNOW-WALKERS. 



63 



Other mortals, he presently digs freely among the 
ashes, and, finding a fresh supply of the delectable 
morsels every night, is soon thrown off his guard, 
and his suspicions quite lulled. After a week of 
baiting in this manner, and on the eve of a light fall 
of snow, the trapper carefully conceals his trap in the 
bed, first smoking it thoroughly with hemlock boughs 
:o kill or neutralize all smell of the iron. If the 
weather favors and the proper precautions have been 
taken, he may succeed, though the chances are still 
greatly against him. 

Keynard is usually caught very lightly, seldom 
more than the ends of his toes being between the 
jaws. He sometimes works so cautiously as to spring 
the trap without injury even to his toes ; or may re- 
move the cheese night after night without even 
springing it. I knew an old trapper who, on finding 
himself outwitted in this manner, tied a bit of cheese 
to the pan, and next morning had poor Reynard by 
the jaw. The trap is not fastened, but only encum- 
bered with a clog, and is all the more sure in its hold 
by yielding to every efifort of the animal to extricate 
himself. 

When Reynard sees his captor approaching, he 
would fain drop into a mouse-hole to render himself 
invisible. He crouches to the ground and remains 
oei'fectly motionless until he perceives himself discov- 
ered, when he makes one desperate and final effort to 
escape, but ceases aVi struggling as you come up, and 
oehaves in a manner that stamps him a very timid 



64 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



v^airior, — cowering to the earth with a mingled look 
of shame, guilt, and abject fear. A young farmer 
told me of tracing one with his trap to the border of 
a wood, where he discovered the cunning rogue try- 
ing to hide by embracing a small tree. Most animals, 
when taken in a trap, show fight ; but Reynard has 
more faith in the nimbleness of his feet than in the 
terror of his teeth. 

Entering the woods, the number and variety of the 
tracks contrast strongly with the rigid, frozen aspect 
of things. Warm jets of life still shoot and play 
amid this snowy desolation. Fox-tracks are far less 
numerous than in the fields ; but those of hares, 
skunks, partridges, squirrels, and mice abound. The 
mice tracks are very pretty, and look like a sort of 
fantastic stitching on the coverlid of the snow. One 
is curious to know what brings these tiny creatures 
from their retreats ; they do not seem to be in quest 
of food, but rather to be traveling about for pleasure 
or sociability, though always going post-haste, and 
linking stump with stump and tree with tree by fine, 
hurried strides. That is when they travel openly ; but 
they have hidden passages and winding galleries under 
the snow, which undoubtedly are their main avenues 
of communication. Here and there these passages 
rise so near the surface as to be covered by only a 
^ail arch of snow, and a slight ridge betrays their 
course to the eye. I know him well. He is known 
to the farmer as the " deer-mouse," to the naturalist 

the white-footed mouse {Hesperomys leucopm) — a 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



65 



rery beautiful creature, nocturnal in his habits, with 
.arge ears, and large, fine eyes, full of a wild, harm- 
less look. He is daintily marked, with white feet 
and a white belly. When disturbed by day he is 
very easily captured, having none of the cunning 
or viciousness of the common Old World mouse. 

It is he who, high in the hollow trunk of some tree, 
lays by a store of beech-nuts for winter use. Every 
nut is carefully shelled, and the cavity that serves as 
storehouse lined with grass and leaves. The wood- 
chopper frequently squanders this precious store. I 
have seen half a peck taken from one tree, as clean 
and white as if put up by the most delicate hands, — 
as they were. How long it must have taken the little 
creature to collect this quantity, to hull them one by 
one, and convey them up to his fifth-story chamber ! 
He is not confined to the woods, but is quite as com- 
mon in the fields, particularly in the fall, amid the 
corn and potatoes. When routed by the plow, I 
have seen the old one take flight with half a dozen 
young hanging to her teats, and with such reckless 
speed that some of the young would lose their hold 
and fly off amid the weeds. Taking refuge in a 
stump with the rest of her family, the anxious mother 
would presently come back and hunt up the missing 
ones. 

The snow-walkers are mostly night-walkers also, 
and the record they leave upon the snow is the main 
clew one has to their life and doings. The hare is 
^aocturnal in its habits, and though a very lively creat- 



66 



THE SNOW-WALKEBS. 



are at night, with regular courses and run-wayi 
through the wood, is entirely quiet by day. Timid 
as he is, he makes little effort to conceal himself, usu- 
ally squatting beside a log, stump, or tree, and seem- 
ing to avoid rocks and ledges where he might be par- 
tially housed from the cold and the snow, but where 
also — and this consideration undo ibtedly determines 
his choice — he would be more apt .o fall a prey to his 
enemies. In this, as well as in many other respects, 
he differs from the rabbit proper {Lepus sylvaticus) , 
he never burrows in the ground, or takes refuge in a 
den or hole, when pursued. If caught in the open 
fields, he is much confused and easily overtaken by 
the dog ; but in the woods, he leaves him at a bound. 
In summer, when first disturbed, he beats the ground 
violently with his feet, by which means he would ex- 
press to you his surprise or displeasure ; it is a dumb 
way he has of scolding. After leaping a few yards, he 
pauses an instant, as if to determine the degree of dan- 
ger, and then hurries away with a much lighter tread. 

His feet are like great pads, and his track has little 
of the sharp, articulated expression of Reynard's, or 
of animals that climb or dig. Yet it is very pretty 
like all the rest, and tells its own tale. There is 
nothing bold or vicious or vulpine in it, and his timid, 
harmless character is published at every leap. He 
abounds in dense woods, preferring localities filled 
with a small undergrowth of beech and birch, upon 
che bark of which he feeds. Nature is rather partiaj 
o him, and matches his extreme local habits and chaj 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



67 



ftcter with a suit that corresponds with his surround- 
ings, — reddish-gray 'n summer and white in winter 

The sharp-rayed tra^^k of the partridge adds another 
figure to this fantastic embroidery upon the winter 
snow. Her course is a clear, strong line, sometimes 
pite wayward, but generally very direct, steering 
for the densest, most impenetrable places, — lead- 
ing you over logs and through brush, alert and ex- 
pectant, till, suddenly, she burstsi up a few yards from 
you, and goes humming through the trees, — the 
complete triumph of endurance and vigor. Hardy 
native bird, may your tracks never be fewer, or your 
visits to the birch- tree less frequent ! 

The squirrel-tracks — sharp, nervous, and wiry — 
have their histories also. But who ever saw squirrels 
in winter? The naturalists say they are mostly tor- 
pid ; yet evidently that little pocket-faced depredator 
the chipmunk, was not carrying buckwheat for so 
many days to his hole for nothing ; — was he antici- 
pating a state of torpidity, or providing against the 
demands of a very active appetite? Red and gray 
squirrels are more or less active all vvdnter, though 
very shy, and, I am inclined to think, partially noc- 
turnal in their habits. Here a gray one has just 
passe<l, — came down that tree and went up this; 
there he dug for a beech-nut, and left the bur on 
\he snow. How did he know where to dig? During 
m unusually severe winter I have known him to make 
long journeys to a barn, in a remote field, wJiere 
ivheat was stored. How did he know there was 



68 



THE SXOW-WALKERS. 



wheat there ? In attempting to return, the adventor 
ous creature was frequently run down and caught ir 
the deep snow. 

His home is in the trunk of some old birch or ma- 
ple, with an entrance far up amid the branches. In 
the spring he builds himself a summer-house of small 
leafy twigs in the top of a neighboring beech, where 
the young are reared and much of the time passed. 
But the safer retreat in the maple is not abandoned, 
and both old and young resort thither in the fall, or 
when danger threatens. Whether this temporary 
residence amid the branches is for elegance or pleas- 
ure, or for sanitary reasons or domestic convenience, 
the naturalist has forgotten to mention. 

The elegant creature, so cleanly in its habits, so 
graceful in its carriage, so nimble and daring in its 
movements, excites feelings of admiration akin to 
those awakened by the birds and the fairer forms of 
nature. His passage through the trees is almost a 
flight. Indeed, the flying-squirrel has little or no ad- 
vantage over him, and in speed and nimbleness can- 
LOt compare with him at all. If he miss his footing 
and fall, he is sure to catch on the next branch ; if 
the connection be broken, he leaps recklessly for the 
nearest spray or limb, and secures his hold, even i. 
It be by the aid of his teeth. 

His career of frolic and festivity begins in the fall 
after the birds have left us and the holiday spirit of 
nature has commenced to subside. How absorbing 
ibe pastime of the sportsman, who goes to the woodi 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



69 



In the still October morning in quest of him ! You 
step liglitly across the threshold of the forest, and sit 
down upon the first log or rock to await the signals. 
It is so still that the ear suddenly seems to have ac- 
quired new powers, and there is no movement to con- 
fuse the eye. Presently you hear the rustling of a 
branch, and see it sway or spring as the squirrel leaps 
from or to it; or else you hear a disturbance in the 
dry leaves, and mark one running upon the ground. 
He has ^^robably seen the intruder, and, not liking his 
stealthy movements, desires to avoid a nearer ac- 
quaintance. Now he mounts a stump to see if the 
way is clear, then pauses a moment at the foot of a 
tree to take his bearings, his tail, as he skims along, 
undulating behind hira, and adding to the easy grace 
and dignity of his movements. Or else you are first 
advised of his proximity by the dropping of a false 
nut, or the fragments of the shucks rattling upon the 
leaves. Or^ again, after contemplating you a while 
unobserved, and making up his mind that you are 
not dangerous, he strikes an attitude on a branch, and 
commences to quack and bark, with an accompanying 
movement of his tail. Late in the afternoon, when 
the same stillness reigns, the same scenes are repeated. 
There is a black variety, quite rare, but mating freely 
with the gray, from which he seems to be distin- 
guished only in color. 

The track of the red squirrel may be known by ita 
iraaller size. He is more common and less dignified 
Iban the gray, and oftener guilty of petty larceny 



ro 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



about the barns and grain-fields. He is most abun- 
dant in old bark-peelings, and low, dilapidated hem- 
locks, from which he makes excursions to the fields 
and orchards, spinning along the tops of the fences, 
which afford, not only convenient lines of communi- 
cation, but a safe retreat if danger threatens. He 
loves to linger about the orchard ; and, sitting upright 
on the topmost stone in the wall, or on the tallest 
stake in the fence, chipping up an apple for the seeds, 
his tail conforming to the curve of his back, his paws 
shifting and turning the apple, he is a pretty sight, 
and his bright, pert appearance atones for all the mis- 
chief he does. At home, in the woods, he is the most 
frolicsome and loquacious. The appearance of any- 
thing unusual, if, after contemplating it a moment, he 
concludes it not dangerous, excites his unbounded 
mirth and ridicule, and he snickers and chatters, 
hardly able to contain himself ; now darting up the 
trunk of a tree and squealing in derision, then hop- 
ping into position on a limb and dancing to the 
music of his own cackle, and all for your special 
benefit. 

There is something very human in this apparent 
mirth and mockery of the squirrels. It seems to be 
a sort of ironical laughter, and implies self-conscious 
pride and exultation in the laughter. " What a ridic- 
ulous thing you are, to be sure ! " he seems to say 
how clumsy and awkward, and what a poor show 
for a tail! Look at me, look at me!" — and he 
capers about in his best style. Again, he would seea 



THE SXOW-WALKERS. 



71 



to tease you and provoke your attention ; then sud- 
denly assumes a tone of good-natured, child-like defi- 
ance and derision. That pretty little imp, the chip- 
munk, will sit on the stone above his den, and defy 
you, as plainly as if he said so, to catch him before he 
can get into his hole if you can. You hurl a stone at 
him, and " No you did n't " comes up from the depth 
of his retreat. 

In February another track appears upon the snow, 
slender and delicate, about a third larger than that of 
the gray squirrel, indicating no haste or speed, but, on 
the contrary, denoting the most imperturbable ease 
and leisure, the foot-prints so close together that the 
trail appears like a cnain of curiously carved links. 
Sir Mephitis chinga^ or, in plain English, the skunk, 
has woke up from his six weeks* nap, and come out 
into society again. He is a nocturnal traveler, very 
bold and impudent, coming quite up to the barn and 
out-buildings, and sometimes taking up his quarters 
for the season unde" the hay-mow. There is no such 
word as hurry in his dictionary, as you may see by 
his path upon the snow. He has a very sneaking, 
insinuating way, and goes creeping about the fields 
and woods, never once in a perceptible degree alter- 
ing his gait, and, if a fence crosses his course, steers 
tor a break or opening to avoid climbing. He is too 
indoLuit even to dig his own hole, but appropriates 
that of a wondchuck, or hunts out a crevice in the 
•'ocks, from which he extends his rambling in all di- 
rections, preferring damp, thawy weather. He has 



72 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



very little discretiou or cunning, and holds a trap in 
utter contempt, stepping into it as soon as beside it 
relying implicitly for defense against all forms of 
danger upon the unsavory punishment he is capable 
of inflicting. He ia quite indifferent to both man and 
beast, and will not hurry himself to get out of the 
way of either. Walking through the summer fields 
at twilight, I have come near stepping upon him, and 
was much the more disturbed of the two. When at- 
tacked in the open fields he confounds the plans of 
his enemies by the unheard-of tactics of exposing his 
rear rather than his front. " Come if you dare," he 
Bays, and his attitude makes even the farm-dog pause. 
After a few encounters of this kind, and if you enter- 
tain the usual hostility towards him, your mode of 
attack will speedily resolve itself into moving about 
him in a circle, the radius of which will be the exact 
distance at which you can hurl a stone with accuracy 
and effect. 

He has a secret to keep, and knows it, and is care- 
ful not to betray himself until he can do so with the 
most telling effect. I have known him to preserve 
his serenity even when caught in a steel trap, and 
look the very picture of injured innocence, manoeu- 
vring carefully and deliberately to extricate his foot 
fron: the grasp of the naughty jaws. Do not by any 
means take pity on him, and lend a helping hand ! 

How pretty his face and head ! How fine and 
deiicate his teeth, like a weasel's or cat's ! Whei 
bbout a third grown, he looks so well that one cov 



THE SN3W-WALKERS. 



73 



ets him for a pet. He is quite precocious, however 
Riid capable, even at this tender age, of making a 
very strong appeal to your sense of smell. 

No animal is more cleanly in its habits than he. 
He is not an awkward boy, who cuts his own face 
with his whip ; and neither his flesh nor his fur hints 
the weapon with which he Ls armed. The most silent 
creature known to me, he makes no sound, so far as 
I have observed, save a diffuse,* impatient noise, like 
that produced by beating your hand with a whisk - 
broom, when the farm-dog has discovered his retreat 
in the stone fence. He renders himself obnoxious to 
the farmer by his partiality for hens' eggs and young 
poultry. He is a confirmed epicure, and at plunder- 
ing hen-roosts an expert. Not the full-grown fowls 
are his victims, but the youngest and most tender. 
At night Mother Hen receives under her maternal 
wings a dozen newly hatched chickens, and with 
much pride and satisfaction feels them all safely 
tucked away in her feathers. In the morning she is 
walking about disconsolately, attended by only two 
or three of all that pretty brood. What has, hap- 
pened ? Where are they gone ? That pickpocket. 
Sir Mephitis, could solve the mystery. Quietly has 
he approached, under cover of darkness, and one by 
one, velieved her of ber precious charge. Look 
jlosely, and you will see their little yellow legs and 
^eaks, or part of a mangled form, lying about on the 
ground. Or, before the hen has hatched, he may 
Sftd he: out, and, by tbs same sleight of hand, r9- 



74 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



move every egg, leaving only the empty blood 
stained shells to witness against him. The birds, es- 
pecially the ground-builders, suffer in like mannei 
from his plundering propensities. 

The secretion upon which he relies for defense, 
and which is the chief source of his unpopularity, 
while it affords good reasons against cultivating him 
as a pet, and mars his attractiveness as game, is by 
no means the greatest indignity that can be offered 
to a nose. It is a rank, living smell, aixd has none of 
the sickening qualities of disease or putrefaction. 
Indeed, I think a good smeller will enjoy its most re- 
fined intensity. It approaches the sublime, and 
makes the nose tingle. It is tonic and bracing, and, 
I can readily believe, has rare medicinal qualities. I 
do not recommend its use as eye-water, though an old 
farmer assures me it has undoubted virtues when 
thus applied. Hearing, one night, a disturbance 
among his hens, he rushed suddenly out to catch the 
thief, when Sir Mephitis, taken by surprise, and no 
doubt much annoyed at being interrn.pted, discharged 
the vials of his wrath full in the farmer's face, and 
with such admirable effect, that, for a few moments, 
he was completely blinded, and powerless to revenge 
oimself upon the rogue, who embraced the opportu- 
nity to make good his escape ; but he declared that 
afterwards his eyes felt as if purged by fire, and hia 
ught was much clearer. 

In March that brief summary of a bear, the rac 
eoouj comes out of his den in the ledges, and leavei 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



i5 



Dis sharp digitigrade track upon the snow, — travel- 
ing not unfrequently in pairs, — a lean, hungry 
couple, bent on pillage and plunder. They have an 
unenviable time of it, — feasting in the summer and 
fall, hibernating in winter, and starving in spring. 
In April I have found the young of tlie previous 
year creeping about the fields, so reduced by starva- 
tion as to be quite helpless, and offering no resistance 
to my taking them up by the tail, and carrying them 
home. 

The old ones also become very much emaciated, 
and come boldly up to the barn or other out-build- 
ings in quest of food. I remember one morning in 
early spring, of hearing old Cuff, the farm-dog, bark- 
ing vociferously before it was yet light. When we 
got up we discovered him, at the foot of an ash-tree 
standing about thirty rods from the house, looking up 
at some gray object in the leafless branches, and by 
his manners and his voice evincing great impatience 
that we were so tardy in coming to his assistance. 
Arrived on the spot, we saw in the tree a coon of un- 
usual size. One bold climber proposed to go up and 
shake him down. This was what old Cuff wanted, 
and he fairly bounded with delight as he saw his 
young master shinning up the tree. Approaching 
within eight or ten feet of the coon, he seized the 
ijranch to which it clung and shook long and fiercely. 
But the coon was in no danger of losing its hold, 
Mid when the climber paused to renew his hold, it 
torned toward him with a growl and showed very 



76 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



clearly a purpose to advance to the attack. This 
caused his pursuer to descend to the ground again 
with all speed. When the coon was finally brought 
down with a gun, he fought the dog, which was a 
large, powerful animal, with great fury, returning 
bite for bite for some moments ; and after a quarter 
of an hour had elapsed and his unequal antagonist 
had shaken him as a terrier does a rat, making hia 
teeth meet through the small of his back, the coon 
still showed fight. 

They are very tenacious of life, and like the badger 
will always whip a dog of their own size and weight. 
A woodchuck can bite severely, having teeth that cut 
like chisels, but a coon has agility and power of limb 
as well. 

They are only considered game in the fall or to- 
wards the close of summer, when they become fat 
and their flesh sweet. At this time, cooning in the 
remote interior is a famous pastime. As this anima? 
is entirely nocturnal in its habits it is hunted only at 
night. A piece of corn on some remote side hill near 
the mountain, or between two pieces of woods, is 
\nost apt to be frequented by them. While the corn 
is yet green they pull the ears down like hogs, and 
tearing open the sheathing of husks, eat the tender, 
succulent kernels, bruising and destroying much more 
than they devour. Sometimes their ravages are a 
matter of serious concern to the farmer. But every 
such neighborhood has its coon-dog, and the boys 
and young n?en dearly love the sport. The partj 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



77 



lets out about eight or nine o'clock of a dark, moon- 
less night, and stealthily approach the cornfield. The 
dog knows his business and when he is put into a 
patch of corn and told to " hunt them up he makes 
a thorough search and will not be misled by any 
other scent. You hear him rattlinor throuijh the corn 
hither and yon, with great speed. The coons prick 
np their ears, and leave on the opposite side of the 
field. In the stillness you may sometimes hear a 
single stone rattle on the wall as they hurry toward 
the woods. If the dog finds nothing he comes back 
to his master in a short time, and says in nls dumb 
way, " No coon there." But if he strikes a ^i*ail you 
presently hear a louder rattling on the ston<.' wall and 
then a hurried bark as he enters the woode- followed 
in few minutes by loud and repeated barlr3 ir as he 
reaches the foot of the tree in which the jcon has 
taken refuge. Then follows a pell-mell ruih of the 
cooning party up the hill, into the woods, tlirough the 
brush and the darkness, falling over prostrate trees, 
pitching into gulleys and hollows, losing hats and 
earing clothes, till finally, guided by the baying of 
the faithful dog, the tree is reached. The first thing 
now in order is to kindle a fire, and if its light reveals 
the coon, to shoot him. If not, to fell the tree with 
an axe. If this happens to be too great a sacrifice 
of timber and of strength, to sit down the foot of 
the tree till morning. 

But with March our interest in theae phases of 
animal life, which winter has so em^liasized and 



78 



THE SNOW-WALKERS. 



brought out, begins to decline. Vague lumors are 
afloat in the air of a great and coming change. We 
are eager for Winter to be gone, since he too is fugi- 
tive, and cannot keep his place. Invisible hands de- 
face his icy statuary ; his chisel has lost its cunning. 
The drifts, so pure and exquisite, are now earth- 
stained and weather-worn, — the flutes and scallops, 
and fine, firm lines, all gone ; and what was a grace 
and an ornament to the hills is now a disfiguration. 
Like worn and unwashed linen appear the remains of 
that spotless robe with wdiich he clothed the world 
as his bride. 

But he will not abdicate without a struggle. Day 
after day he rallies his scattered forces, and night 
after night pitches his white tents on the hills, and 
would fain regain his lost ground ; but the young 
prince in every encounter prevails. Slowly and re- 
luctantly the gray old hero retreats up the mountain, 
till finally the south rain comes in earnest, and in a 
night he is dead 



THE FOX. 



THE FOX. 



I HAVE already spoken of the fox at some lengthy 
but it will take a chapter by itself to do half justice 
to his portrait. 

He furnishes, perhaps, the only instance that can 
be cited of a fur-bearing animal that not only holds 
its own, but that actually increases in the face of the 
means that are used for its extermination. The 
beaver, for instance, was gone before the earliest 
settlers could get a sight of him ; and even the mink 
and marten are now only rarely seen, or not seen at 
all, in places where they were once abundant. 

But the fox has survived civilization, and in some 
localities is no doubt more abundant now than in the 
time of the Revolution. For half a century at least 
he has been almost the only prize, in the way of fur, 
fhat was to be found on our mountains, and he has 
been hunted and trapped and waylaid, sought for as 
^ame and pursued in enmity, taken by fair means 
and by foul, and yet there seems not the slightest 
danger of the species becoming extinct. 

One would think that a single hound in a neigh- 
borhood, filling the mountains with his bayings, and 




82 



THE FOX. 



leaving no nook or by-way of them unexplored, v/a^s 
enough to drive and scare every fox from the coun- 
try. But not so. Indeed, I am ahnost tempted to 
say, the more hounds, the more foxes. 

I recently spent a summer month in a mountainous 
district in the State of New York, where, from its 
earliest settlement, the red fox has been the standing 
prize for skill in the use of the trap and gun. At the 
house where I was stopping were two fox-hounds, and 
a neighbor, half a mile distant, had a third. There 
were many others in the township, and in season they 
were well employed, too ; but the three spoken of, at- 
tended by their owners, held high carnival on the 
mountains in the immediate vicinity. And many 
were the foxes that, winter after winter, fell before 
them, twenty-five having been shot the season before 
my visit, on one small range alone. And yet the 
foxes were apparently never more abundant than 
they were that summer, and never bolder, coming at 
night within a f^w rods of the house, and of the un- 
chained alert hounds, and making havoc among the 
poultry. 

One morning a large fat goose was found mhius her 
head and otherwise mangled. Both hounds had dis- 
appeared, and as they did not come back till near 
night, it was inferred that they had cut short Rey- 
nard's repast, and given him a good chase into the 
bargain. But next night he was back again, and this 
time got safely off with the goose. A couple ol 
nights after he must have come with recruits, foi 



THE FOX. 



83 



next morning three large goslings were reported 
missing. The silly geese now got it through their 
noddles that there was danger about, and every night 
thereafter came close up to the house to roost. 

A brood of turkeys, the old one tied to a tree a 
few rods to the rear of the house, were the next ob- 
jects of attack. The predaceous rascal came, as 
usual, in the latter half of the night. I happened to 
be awake, and heard the helpless turkey cry " Quit," 
" quit," with great emphasis. Another sleeper, on 
the floor above me, who, it seems, had been sleeping 
with one ear awake for several nights in apprehen- 
sion for the safety of his turkeys, heard the sound 
also, and instantly divined its cause. I heard the 
window open and a voice summon the dogs. A loud 
bellow was the response, which caused Reynard to 
take himself off in a hurry. A moment more, and 
the mother turkey would have shared the fate of the 
geese. There she lay at the end of her tether, with 
extended wings, bitten and rumpled. The young 
ones roosted in a row on the fence near by, and had 
taken flight on the first alarm. 

Turkeys, retaining many of their wild instincts, are 
less easily captured by the fox than any other of our 
domestic fowls. On the slightest show of danger 
they take to wing, and it is not unusual, in the local- 
*ty of which I speak, to find them in the morning 
perclied in th^ most unwonted places, as on the peak 
of the barn or hay-shed, or on the tops of the apple- 
trees, their tails spread and their manners showing 



84 



THE FOX. 



much excitement. Perchance one turkey is minua 
lier tail, tlie fox having succeeded in getting only a 
mouthful of qui!I:3. 

As the brood grows and their wings develop, they 
wander far from the house in quest of grasshop|»er8. 
At such times tliey are all watchfulness and suspicion. 
Crossing the fields one day, attended by a dog that 
much resembled a fox, I c^me suddenly upon a brood 
about one third grown, which were feeding in a past- 
ure just beyond a wood. It so happened that they 
cauoht siofht of the doo^ without seeins^ me, when in 
Btantly, with the celerity of wild game, they launched 
into the air, and, while the old one perched upon a 
tree-top, as if to keep an eye on the supposed enemy, 
the young went sailing over the trees towards home. 

The two hoimds above referred to, accompanied by 
a cur-dog, \$^hose business it was to mind the farm, 
but who took as much delight in running away from 
prosy duty as if he had been a school-boy, would fre- 
quently steal off and have a good hunt all by them- 
selves, just for the fun of the thing, I suppose. I 
more than half suspect that it was as a kind of taunt 
or retaliation, that Reynard came and took the geese 
from under their very noses. One morning they 
went off and stayed till the afternoon of the next 
day ; they ran the fox all day and all night, the 
hounds baying at every jump, the cur-dog silent and 
tenacious. When the trio returned they came drag- 
ging themselves along, stiff, foot-sore, gaunt, and 
Iwngry. For a day or two afterward they lay aboi< 



THE FOX. 



86 



the kennels, seeming to dread nothing so much as the 
having to move. The stolen hunt was their " spree," 
their " bender," and of course they must take time to 
get over it. 

Some old hunters think the fox enjo3^s the chase as 
much as the hound, especially when the latter runs 
Blow, as the best hounds do. The fox will wait for 
the liound, will sit down and listen, or play about, 
crossing and recrossing and doubling upon his track, 
as if enjoying a mischievous consciousness of the per- 
plexity he would presently cause his pursuer. It is 
evident, how^ever, that the fox does not always have 
his share of the fun : before a swift dog, or in a deep 
snow, or on a wet day when his tail gets heavy, he 
must put his best foot forward. As a last resort he 
" holes up." Sometimes he resorts to numerous de- 
vices to mislead and escape the dog altogether. He 
will walk in the bed of a small creek, or on a rail- 
fence. I heard of an instance of a fox, hard and long 
pressed, that took to a rail-fence, and after walking 
some distance, made a leap to one side to a hollow 
itump, in the cavity of which he snugly stowed him- 
self. The ruse succeeded, and the dogs lost the trail ; 
Dut the hunter coming up, passed by chance near the 
%tun]p, wdien out bounded the fox, his cunning avail- 
ng Lim less than he deserved. On another occasion 
he fox took to the public road, and stepped with 
great care and precision iniO a sleigh-track. The 
.laid, polished snow took no imprint of the light foot, 
\nd the scent was no doubt less than it would hav€ 



86 



THE FOX. 



been on a rougher surface. May be, also, the rogu« 
had considered the chances of another sleigh coming 
along, before the hound, and obliterating the trail 
entirely. 

Audubon relates of a certain fox, which, when 
stifted by the hounds, always managed to elude them 
at a certain point. Finally the hunter concealed 
himself in the locality, to discover, if possible, the 
tfick. Presently along came the fox, and making a 
leap to one side, ran up the trunk of a fallen tree 
which had lodged some feet from the ground, and 
concealed himself in the top. In a few minutes the 
hounds came up, and in their eagerness passed some 
distance beyond the point, and then went still farther, 
looking for the lost trail. Then the fox hastened 
down, and, taking his back-track, fooled the dogs 
completely. 

I was told of a silver-gray fox in northern New 
York, which, when pursued by the hounds, would run 
till it had hunted up another fox, or the fresh trail of 
one, when it would so manoeuvre that the hound 
would invariably be switched off on the second track. 

In cold, dry weather the fox will sometimes elude 
the hound, at least delay him much, by taking to a 
bare, plowed field. The hard dry earth seems not to 
•etain a particle of the scent, and the hound gives a 
ioud, long, peculiar bark, to signify he has trouble. 
It is now his turn to show his wit, which he often 
does by passing completely around the field, and re 
laming the trail again where it crosses the fence or a 
itrip of snow. 



THE FOX. 



87 



The fact that any dry, hard surface is unfavorable 
to the hound, suggests, in a measure, the explanation 
of the wonderful faculty that all dogs in a degree 
possess to track an animal by the scent of the foot 
alone. Did you ever think why a dog's nose it 
always wet ? Examine the nose of a fox-hound, for 
instance ; how very moist and sensitive ! Cause this 
moisture to dry up, and the dog would be as power- 
less to track an animal as you are ! The nose of the 
cat, you may observe, is but a little moist, and, as 
you know, her sense of smell is far inferior to that of 
the dog. Moisten your own nostrils and lips, and 
this sense is plainly sharpened. The sweat of a dog's 
nose, therefore, is no doubt a vital element in its 
power, and, without taking a very long logical stride 
we may infer how a damp, rough surface aids him in 
tracking game. 

A fox hunt in this country is, of course, quite a 
different thing from what it is in England, where all 
^he squires and noblemen of a borough, superbly 
mounted, go riding over the country, guided by the 
yelling hounds, till the fox is literally run down and 
murdered. Here the hunter prefers a rough, mount- 
ainous country, and, as probably most persons know, 
takes advantage of the disposition of the fox, when 
pursued by the hound, to play or circle around a ridge 
or bold point, and, taking his stand near the run-way 
shoots him down. 

I recently had the pleasure of a turn with some ex- 
perienced hunters. As we ascended tne ridge toward 



8S 



THE FOX. 



ihe moimtaiu, keeping iu our ears the uncertain bay- 
ing of the hounds as they slowly unraveled an old 
trail, my companions pointed out to me the different 
run-ways, — a gap in the fence here, a rock just below 
the brow of the hill there, that tree yonder near th3 
corner of the woods, or the end of that stone wall 
looking down the side hill, or commanding a cow 
path, or the outlet of a wood road. A half wild ap- 
ple orchard near a cross road was pointed out as an 
invariable run-way, where the fox turned toward the 
mountain again, after having been driven down the 
ridge. There appeared to be no reason why the 
foxes should habitually pass any particular point, yet 
the hunters told me that year after year they took 
about the same turns, each generation of foxes run- 
ning through the upper corner of that field, or cross- 
ing the valley near yonder stone wall, when pursued 
by the dog. It seems the fox when he finds himself 
followed is perpetually tempted to turn in his course, 
to deflect from a right line, as a person would un- 
doubtedly be under similar circumstances. If he is 
on this side of the ridore, when he hears the dos; 
break around on his trail, he speedily crosses to the 
other side ; if he is in the fields he takes again to the 
woods ; if in the valley he hastens to the high land, 
and evidently enjoys running along the ridge and lis- 
tening to the dogs, slowly tracing out his course in 
the fields below. At such times he appears to have 
but one sense, hearing, and that reverted toward hii 
pursuers. He is constantly pausing, looking bact 



THE FOX. 



89 



and listening, and will almost run over the hunter if 
he stands still, even though not at all concealed. 

Animals of this class depend far less upon their 
sight than upon their hearing and sense of sraell. 
Neither the fox nor the dog is capable of much dis- 
crimination with the eye ; they seem to see things 
only in the mass ; but with the nose they can analyze, 
and define, and get at the most subtle shades of difTar- 
ence. The fox will not read a man from a stump or 
a rock, unless he gets his scent, and the dog does not 
know his master in a crowd until he has smelt him. 

On the occasion to which I refer, it was not many 
minutes after the dogs entered the woods on the side 
of the mountain, before they gave out sharp and 
eager, and we knew at once that the fox was started. 
We were then near a point that had been designated 
as a sure run-way, and hastened to get into position 
with all speed. For my part I was so taken with 
the music of the hounds as it swelled up over the 
ridge, that I quite forgot the game. I saw one of 
my companions leveling his gun, and looking a few 
rods to the right, saw the fox coming right on to 
us. I had barely time to note the silly and abashed 
expression that came over him as he saw us in his 
path, w^hen he was cut down as by a flash of light- 
ning. The rogue did not appear frightened, but 
ishamed and out of countenance as one does when 
lome trick has been played upon him, or when de- 
^ected in some mischief. 

Late in the afternoon, as we were passing through 



90 



THE FOX. 



A piece of woods in the valley below, another fox, the 
third that day, broke from his cover in an old tree top 
ander our very noses, and drew the fire of three of our 
party, myself among the number, but thanks to the 
interposing trees and limbs, escaped unhurt. Then 
the dogs took up the trail and there was lively music 
again. The fox steered through the fields direct for 
the ridge where we had passed up in the morning. 
VTe knew he would take a turn here and then poin* 
for the mountain, and two of us with the hope of cut- 
ting him off by the old orchard, through which we 
were again assured he would surely pass, made a pre- 
cipitous rush for that point. It was nearly half a 
mile distant, most of the way up a steep side hill, and 
if the fox took the circuit indicated he would proba- 
bly be there in twelve or fifteen minutes. Running 
up an angle of 45° seems quite easy work for a four- 
footed beast like a dog or fox, but to a two-legged 
animal like a man, it is very heavy and awkward. 
Before I got half way up, there seemed to be a vac- 
uum all about me, so labored was my breathing, and 
when I reached the summit, my head swam and my 
knees were about giving out. but pressing on I had 
barely time to reach a point in the road abreast of 
Vhe orchard, when I heard the hounds, and looking 
under the trees, saw the fox, leaping high above the 
reeds and orrass, comhicj strai<:ht toward me. He 
evidently liad not got over the first scare, which our 
haphazard fusilade had given him, and was making 
unusually quick time. I was armed witt a rifie and 



THE FOX. 



91 



Baid to myself now was the time to win the laurels I 
had coveted. For half a day previous I had been 
practicing on a pumpkia which a patient youth had 
rolled down a hill for me and had improved my shot 
considerably. Now a yellow pumpkin was coming 
which was not a pumpkin, and for the first time during 
the day opportunity favored me. I expected the fox 
to cross the road a few yards below me but just tliea 
I heard him whisk through the grass, and he bounded 
upon the fence a few yards above. He seemed to 
cringe as he saw his old enemy, and to depress his 
fur to half his former dimensions. Three bounds 
and he had cleared the road, when my bullet tore up 
the sod beside him, but to this hour I do not know 
whether I looked at the fox without seeing my gun, 
or whether I did sight him across its barrel. I only 
know that I did not distinguish myself in the use of 
the rifle on that occasion, and went home to wreak 
my revenge upon another pumpkin. But without 
much improvement of my skill, for, a few days after, 
another fox ran under my very nose with perfect 
impunity. There is something so fascinating in the 
sudden appearance of the fox, that the eye is quite 
mastered, and unless the instinct of the sportsman is 
veiy strong and quick, the prey will slip through his 
grasp. 

A still-hunt rarely brings you in sight of a fox, ad 
his ears are much sharper than yours, and his tread 
ILUch lighter. But if the fox is mousing in the fields, 
%ni you discover him before he ioes you, you may 



32 



THE FOX. 



she wind favoring, call him within a few paces of yoii. 
Secrete yourself behind the fences or some other ob 
ject, and squeak as nearly like a mouse as possible. 
Reynard will hear the sound at an incredible distance 
Pricking up his ears, he gets the direction, and comes 
trotting along as unsuspiciously as can be. I have 
never had an opportunity to try the experiment, but 
I know perfectly reliable persons who have. One 
man, in the pasture getting his cows, called a fox 
which was too busy mousing to get the first sight, 
till it jumped upon the wall just over -where he sat 
secreted. Giving a loud whoop and jumping up at 
the same time, the fox came as near being frightened 
out of his skin as I suspect a fox ever was. 

In trapping for the fox, you get perhaps about as 
much "fun" and as little fur, as in any trapping 
amusement you can engage in. The one feeling that 
ever seems present to the mind of Reynard, is sus- 
picion. He does not need experience to teach him, 
">ut seems to know from the jump that there is such 

thing as a trap, and that a trap has a way of 
grasping a fox's paw that is more frank than friendly. 
Cornered in a hole or den, a trap can be set so that 
the poor creature has the desperate alternative oi 
being caught or starve. He is generally caught, 
though not till he has braved hunger for a good 
many days. 

But to know all his cunning and shrewdness, bait 
him in the field, or set your trap by some carcass 
where he is wont to come. In some cases he wil 



THE FOX. 



93 



nncover the trap, and leave the marks of his con- 
tempt for it in a way you cannot mistake, or else he 
will not approach within a rod of it. Occasionally, 
however, he finds in a trapper more than his match, 
and is fairly canght. When this happens, the traj> 
which must be of the finest make, is never touched 
with the bare hand, but, after being thoroughly 
smoked and greased, is set in a bed of dry ashes, or 
chaff, in a remote field where the fox has been em 
boldened to dig for several successive nights for mor 
sels of toasted cheese. 

A light fall of snow aids the trapper's art and con 
spires to Reynard's ruin. But how lightly he is 
caught, when caught at all ! barely the end of his 
toes, or at most a spike through the middle of his 
foot. I once saw a large painting of a fox struggling 
with a trap which held him by the liind leg, above 
the gambrel-joint! A painting alongside of it repre- 
sented a peasant driving an ox-team from the off- 
side ! A fox would be as likely to be caught above 
the gambrel-joint as a farmer would to drive his 
team from the off-side. I knew one that was cauo^ht 
by the tip of the lower jaw. He came nightly, and 
took the morsel of cheese from the pan of the trap 
without springing it. A piece was then secured to 
the pan by a thread, with the result as above stated. 

I have never been able to see clearly why the 
'^other-fox generally selects a burrow or hole in the 
open field in which to have her young, excej)t it be, 
ts some hunters maintain, for better security. The 



94 



THE FOX. 



young foxes are wont to come out on a warm day 
and play like puppies in front of the den. The vie\v 

being unobstructed on all sides by trees ( r bushes, in 
the cover of which danger might approach, they are 
less liable to surprise and capture. On the slightest 
sound they disappear in the hole. Those who have 
watched the gambols of the young foxes, speak of 
them as very amusing, even moi'e arch and playful 
than those of kittens, while a spirit profoundly wise 
and cunning seems to look out of their young eyes. 
The parent-fox can never be caught in the den with 
them, but is hovering near the woods, which are al- 
ways at hand, and by her warning cry or bark telling 
them when to be on their guard. She usually has at 
least three dens, at no great distance apart, and moves 
stealthily in the night with her charge from one to 
the other, so as to mislead her enemies. Many a 
party of boys, and of men, too, discovering the where- 
abouts of a litter, have gone with shovels and picks, 
and, after digging away vigorously for several hours, 
have found only an empty hole for their pains. The 
pld fox, finding her secret had been found out, had 
waited for darkness, in the cover of which to transfer 
her household to new quarters ; or else some old fox- 
hunter, jealous of the preservation of his game, and 
getting word of the intended destruction of the litter 
had gone at dusk the night before, and made some 
disturbance about the den, perhaps flashed some pow 
der in its mouth — a hint which the shrewd anima 
knew how to interpret. 



THE FOX. 95 

The more scientific aspects of the question may not 
be without interest to some of my readers. The fox 
belongs to the great order of flesh-eating animala* 
called Carnivora, and to' the family called Ganidce^ or 
dogs. The wolf is a kind of wild dog, and the fox 
is a kind of wolf. Foxes, unlike wolves, however, 
never go in packs or companies, but hunt singly. 
The fox has a kind of bark, which suggests the dog, 
as have all the members of this family. The kinship 
is furtlier shown by the fact that during certain pe- 
riods, for the most part in the summer, the dog can- 
not be made to attack or even pursue the female 
fox, but will run from her in the most shamefaced 
manner, which he will not do in the case of any other 
animal except a wolf. Many of the ways and manners 
of the fox, when tamed, are also like the dog's. I 
once saw a young red fox exposed for sale in the 
market in Washington. A colored man had him, 
and said he had caught him out in Virginia. He led 
him by a small chain, as he would a puppy, and 
the innocent young rascal would lie on his side and 
bask and sleep in the sunshine, amid all the noise 
and chaffering around him, precisely like a dog. 
He was about the size of a full-grown cat, and there 
was a bewitching beauty about him that I could 
hardly resist. On another occasion, I saw a gray fox 
about two-thirds grown, playing with a dog, about 
the same size, and by nothing in the manners of either 
eouH you tell whi-^h was the dog and WAiich was tlie 
fox. 



96 



THE FOX. 



Some naturalists think there are but two perms^' 
nent species of the fox in the United States, viz, the 
fgray fox and the red fox, though there are five or six 
varieties. The gray fox, which is much smaller and 
less valuable than the red, is the southern species, 
and is said to be rarely found north of Maryland, 
though in certain rocky localities along the Hudson 
they are common. 

In the Southern States this fox is often hunted in 
(he English fashion, namely, on horseback, the riders 
tearing through the country in pursuit till the ani- 
mal is run down and caught. This is the only fox 
that will tree. When too closely pressed, instead of 
taking to a den or hole, it climbs beyond the reach 
of the dogs in some small tree. 

The red fox is the northern species, and is rarely 
found farther south than the mountainous districts 
of Virginia. In the Arctic regions he gives place 
to the Arctic fox which most of the season is white. 

The prairie fox, the cross fox, and the black or 
silver gray fox, seem only varieties of the red fox, as 
the black squirrel breeds from the gray, and the black 
woodchuck is found with the brown. There is little 
to distinguish them from the red, except the color, 
though the prairie fox is said to be the larger of tlie 
two. 

The cross fox is dark brown on its muzzle and ex 
tremities, with, a cross of red and black on its shoul- 
iers and breast, which peculiarity of coloring, and no. 
any trait in its character, gives it its name. Thej 



THE FOX. 



97 



are very rare, and few hunters have ever seen one. 
The American Fur Company used to obtain annu- 
ally from fifty to one hundred skins. The skins for- 
merly sold for twenty-five dollars, though I believe 
they now bring only about five dollars. 

The black or silver gray fox is the rarest of all, 
and its skin the most valuable. The Indians used to 
estimate it equal to forty beaver skins. The great 
fur companies seldom collect in a single season more 
than four or five skins at any one post. Most of 
those of the American Fur Company come from the 
head waters of the Mississippi. One of the younger 
Audubons shot one in northern New York. The fox 
had been seen and fired at many times by the hunters 
of the neighborhood, and had come to have the repu- 
tation of leading a charmed life, and of being invul- 
nerable to anything but a silver bullet. But Audu- 
bon brought her down (for it was a female) on the 
second trial. She had a litter of young in the vicin- 
ity, which he also dug out, and found the nest to hold 
three black and four red ones, which fact settled the 
question with him that black and red often have the 
some parentage, and are in truth the same species. 

The color of this fox, in a point-blank view, is 
black, but viewed at an angle it is a dark silver-gray, 
whence has arisen the notion that the black and the 
Bilvei-gray are distinct varieties. The tip of the tail 
'3 always white. 

In almost every neighborhood there are traditions 
of this fox, and it is the dream of young sportsmen : 
7 



98 



THE FOX. 



but I have yet to meet the person who has seen one, 
I should go well to the north, into the British Pos- 
session, if I was bent on obtaining a specimen. 

One more item from the books. From the fact 
that in the bone caves in this country skulls of the 
gray fox are found, but none of the red, it is inferred 
by some naturalists that the red fox is a descendant 
from- the European species, which it resembles in 
form but surpasses in beauty, and its appearance od 
ibid continent comparatively of recent date. 



A MAECH CHRONICLE. 



4 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 

ON THE POTOMAC. 

March 1. — The first day of spring and the first 
spring day ! I felt the change the moment I put my 
head out of doors in the morning. A fitful, gusty 
Bouth wind was blowing, though the sky was clear. 
But the sunlight was not the same. There was an 
interfusion of a new element. Not ten days since 
there had been a day just as bright, — even brighter 
and warmer, — a clear, crystalline day of February, 
with nothing vernal in it ; but this day was opaline ; 
there was a film, a sentiment in it, a nearer approach 
to life. Then there was that fresh, indescribable 
odor, a breath from the Gulf, or from Florida and 
the Carolinas, — a subtle, persuasive influence that 
thrilled the sense. Every root and rootlet under 
ground must have felt it ; the buds of the soft maple 
and silver poplar felt it ; and swelled perceptibly dur- 
ing the day. The robins knew it, and were here that 
morning ; so were the crow-blackbirds. The shad 
must have known it, down deep in their marine re- 
'aeats, and leaped and sported about the mouths o 



102 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



the rivers, ready to dart up them if the genial influ- 
ence continued. The bees in the hive also, or iu the 
old tree in the woods, no doubt awoke to new life ; 
Rnd the hibernating animals, the bears and wood- 
chucks, rolled up in their subterranean dens, — I im- 
agine the warmth reached even them, and quickened 
their sluggish circulation. 

Then in the afternoon there was the smell of smoke, 
— the first spring fires in the open air. The Vir- 
ginia farmer is raking together the rubbish in his 
garden, or in the field he is preparing for the plow, 
and burning it up. In imagination I am there to 
help him. I see the children playing about, delighted 
with the sport and the resumption of work ; the 
smoke goes up through the shining haze ; the farm- 
house door stands open, and lets in the afternoon sun ; 
the cow lows for her calf, or hides it in the woods ; 
and in the morning, the geese, sporting in the spring 
sun, answer the call of the wild flock steering north- 
ward above them. 

As I stroll through the market I see the signs 
here. That old colored woman has brought spring 
in her basket in those great green flakes of moss, 
with arbutus showing the pink ; and her old man is 
just in good time with his fruit-trees and gooseberry- 
bushes. Various bulbs and roots are also being 
brought out and offered, and the onions are sprouting 

the stands. I see bunches of robins and cedar- 
birds also — so much melody and beauty cut off from 
the supply going north. The fish market is begin- 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



103 



niug to be bright with perch and bass, and with shad 
from the southern rivers, and wild ducks are taking 
the place of prairie-hens and quails. 

In the Carolinas, no doubt, the fruit-trees are in 
✓ bloom, and the rice-land is being prepared for the 
seed. In the mountains of Virginia and in Ohio 
they are making maple-sugar ; in Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee they are sowing oats ; in Illinois they are, 
perchance, husking the corn which has remained on 
the stalk in the field all winter. Wild geese and 
ducks are streaming across the sky from the lower 
Mississippi toward the great lakes, pausing a while 
on the prairies, or alighting in the great corn-fields, 
making the air resound with the noise of their wings 
upon the stalks and dry shucks as they resume their 
journey. About this time, or a little later, in the 
still spring morning, the prairie-hens or prairie-cocks 
set up that low musical cooing or crowing that defies 
the ear to trace or locate. The air is filled with that 
soft, mysterious undertone ; and save that a bird is 
seen here and there flitting low over the ground, the 
sportsman walks for hours without coming any nearer 
the source of the elusive sound. 

All over a certain belt of the country the rivers 
and streams are roily, and chafe their banks. There 
is a movement of the soils. The capacity of the 
water to take up and hold in solution the salt and 
earths, seemed never so great before. The frost has 
•elinquished its hold, and turned everything over to 
tide water. Mud is the mother now ; and out of if 
creep the frogs, the turtles, the crawfish. 



104 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



lu the North how goes the season ? The wintei 
IS perchance just breaking up. The old frost-king ia 
just striking, or preparing to strike, his tents. The 
ice is going out of the rivers, and the first steamboat 
on the Hudson is picking its way through the blue^ 
lanes and channels. The white gulls are making ex- 
cursions up from the bay, to see what the prospects 
are. In the lumber countries, along the upper Ken- 
nebec and Penobscot, and along the northern Hudson 
starters are at work with their pikes and hooks start- 
ing out the pine logs on the first spring freshet. AP 
winter, through the deep snows, they have been haul 
ing them to the bank of the stream, or placing theiK 
where the tide woukT reach them. Now, in count- 
less numbers, beaten and bruised, the trunks of the 
noble trees come, borne by the angry flood. The 
snow that furnishes the smooth bed over which they 
were drawn, now melted, furnishes the power that 
carries them down to the mills. On the Delaware 
the raftsmen are at work running out their rafts. 
Floating islands of logs and lumber go down the 
swollen stream, bending over the dams, shooting 
through the rapids, and bringing up at last in Phila- 
delphia or beyond. 

In the inland farming districts what are the signs ? 
Few and faint, but very suggestive. The sun has 
[ ower to melt the snow ; and in the meadows all the 
knolls are bare, and the sheep are gnawing them in- 
dustriously. The di'ifts on the side hills also begin 
U) have a worn and dirty look, and where they crosi 



A MARCH CHRONICLE, 



105 



the highway, to become soft, letting the teams in up 
to tlieir bellies. The oxen labor and grunt, or pa- 
tiently wait for the shovel to release them ; but the 
Bpirited horse leaps and flounders, and is determined 
not to give up. In the woods the snow is melted 
around the trees, and the burs and pieces of bark 
have absorbed the heat till they have sunk half-way 
through to the ground. The snow is melting on the 
under side ; the frost is going out of the ground : 
now comes the trial of your foundations. 

About the farm -buildings there awakens the old 
familiar chorus, the bleating of calves and lambs, and 
the answering bass of their distressed mothers ; while 
the hens are cackling in the hay -loft, and the geese are 
noisy in the spring run. But the most delightful of 
all farm-work or of all rural occupations, is at hand, 
namely, sugar-making. In New York and northern 
New England the beginning of this season varies 
from the first to the middle of March, sometimes even 
holding off till April. The moment the contest be- 
tween the sun and frost fairly begins, sugar weather 
begins ; and the more even the contest, the more the 
iweet. I do not know what the philosophy of it is, 
out it seems a kind of see-saw, as if the sun drew the 
Bap up, and the frost drew it down ; and an excess of 
either stops the flow. Before the sun has got power 
to unlock the frost, there is no sap ; and after the 
frost has lost its power to lock up again the work o^ 
the sun, there is no sap. But when it freezes soundly 
ftt ^ight. with a bright, warm sun next day, wind ia 



106 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



the west, and do signs of a storm^ the veins of the 
maples fairly thrill.. Pierce the bark anywhere, and 
out gushes the clear, sweet liquid. But let the wind 
change to the south, and blow moist and warm, des- 
troying that crispness of the air, and the flow slackens 
at once, unless there be a deep snow in the woods to 
counteract or neutralize the warmth, in which case 
the run may continue till the rain sets in. The 
rough-coated old trees, one would not think they 
could scent a change so quickly through that wrapper 
of dead, dry bark an inch or more thick. I have to 
wait till I put my head out of doors, and feel the air 
on my bare cheek, and sniff it with my nose ; but 
their nerves of taste and smell are no doubt under 
ground, imbedded in the moisture, and if there is any- 
thing that responds quickly to atmospheric changes it 
is water. Do not the fish, think you, down deep in 
the streams, feel every wind that blows, whether it be 
hot or cold ? Do not the frogs and newts and turtles 
under the mud feel the warmth, though the water 
still seems like ice ? As the springs begin to rise in 
advance of the rain, so the intelligence of every 
change seems to travel ahead under ground, and 
forewarn things. 

A " sap-run " seldom lasts more than two or three 
days. By that time there is a change in the weather, 
perhaps a rain-storm, which takes the frost nearly all 
out of the ground. Then before there can be another 
^n, the trees must be wound up again, the storm 
must have a white tail, and " come off" cold, Pre» 



A MARCH CHRONICLE, 



107 



end J the sun rises clear again, and cuts the snow or 
Boftens the hard frozen ground with his beams, and 
the trees take a fresh start. The boys go through 
the wood, emptying out the buckets or the pans, and 
reclaiming those that have blown away, and the de- 
lightful work is resumed. But the first run, like first 
love, is always the best, always the fullest, always the 
sweetest ; while there is a purity and delicacy of 
flavor about the sugar that far surpasses any sub- 
sequent yield. 

Trees differ much in the quantity as well as in the 
quality of sap produced in a given season. Indeed, in 
a bush or orchard of fifty or one hundred trees, as 
wide a difference may be observed in this respect as 
among that number of cows in regard to the milk 
they yield. I have in my mind now a " sugar-bush " 
nestled in the lap of a spur of the Catskills, every 
tree of which is known to me, and assumes a distinct 
individuality in my thought. I know the look and 
quality of the whole two hundred ; and when on my 
annual visit to the old homestead I find one has per- 
ished, or fallen before the axe, 1 feel a personal loss. 
They are all veterans, and have yielded up their life's 
blood for the profit of two or three generations. 
They stand in little groups or couples. One stands 
at the head of a spring-run, and lifts a large dry 
branch high above the woods, where hawks and crowa 
love to alight. Half a dozen are climbing a little 
hill ; while others stand far out in the field, as if they 
had come out to get the sun. A file of five or bli 



108 



A MAECH CHRONICLE. 



HTorthies sentry the woods on the northwest, and cou- 
front a steep side hill where sheep and cattle graze. 
An equal number crowd up to the line on the east ; 
and their gray, stately trunks are seen across meadows 
or fields of grain. Then there is a pair of Siamese 
twins, with heavy, bushy tops, while in the forks of 
a wood-road stand the two brothers, with their arms 
around each other's neck, and their bodies in gentle 
contact for a distance of thirty feet. 

One immense maple, known as the " old-cream- 
pan-tree," stands, or did stand, quite alone among a 
thick growth of birches and beeches. But it kept its 
end up and did the work of two or three ordinary 
trees, as its name denotes. Next to it the best milch er 
in the lot was a shaggy-barked tree in the edge of the 
field, that must have been badly crushed or broken 
when it was little, for it had an ugly crook near the 
ground, and seemed to struggle all the way up to get 
in an upright attitude, but never quite succeeded ; 
yet it could outrun all its neighbors nevertheless. 
The poorest tree in the lot was a short-bodied, heavy- 
topped tree, that stood in the edge of a spring-run. 
It seldom produced half a gallon of sap during the 
whole season ; but this half-gallon was very sweet, — 
'hree or four times as sweet as the ordinary article. 
In the production of sap, top seems far less^ important 
than body. It is not length of limb that wins in this 
race, but length of trunk. A heavy, bushy-topped tree 
.n the open field, for instance, will not, according to 
ny observation, compare w'th a tall, long-tninked 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



109 



tree in the woods, that has but a small top. Young, 
thrifty, thin-skinned trees start up with great spirit, 
indeed, fairly on a run ; but they do not hold out, 
and their blood is very diluted. Cattle are very fond 
of sap ; so are sheep, and will drink enough to kill 
them. The honey-bees get here their first sweet, and 
the earliest bug takes up liis permanent abode on the 
spile." The squirrels also come timidly down the 
trees, and sip the sweet flow ; and occasionally an 
ugly lizard, just out of its winter-quarters, and in quest 
of novelties, creeps up into the pan or bucket. Soft 
maple makes a very fine white sugar, superior in qual- 
ity, but far less in quantity. 

I think any person who has tried it will agree with 
me about the charm of sugar-making, though he have 
no tooth for the sweet itself. It is enough that it if 
the first spring work, and takes one to the woods- 
The robins are just arriving, and their merry callt 
ring through the glades. The squirrels are now vent- 
uring out, and the woodpeckers and nuthatches run 
briskly up the trees. The crow begins to caw, with 
iiis accustomed heartiness and assurance ; and one 
sees the white rump and golden shafts of the high- 
hole as he flits about the open woods. Next week 
or the week after, it may be time to begin plowing, 
and other sober work about the farm ; but this week 
we will picnic among the maples, and our camp-fire 
shall be an incense to spring. Ah, I am there now 1 
I see the woods flooded with sun-light ; I smell the 
•iry leaves, and the mould under them just quickened 



no 



A MAECH CHRONICLE. 



Dy the warmth ; the long-tmnked maples in theii 
gray rough liveries stand thickly about ; I sec the 
brimming pans arid buckets, always on the sunny side 
of the trees, and hear the musical dropping of the 
Bap ; the " boiling-place," with its delightful camp- 
features, is just beyond the first line, with its great 
arch looking to the southwest. The sound of its axe 
rings through the woods. Its huge kettles or broad 
pans boil and foam ; and I ask no other delight than 
to watch and tend them all day, to dip the sap from 
the great casks into them, and to replenish the fire 
with the newly-cut birch and beech wood. A slight 
breeze is blowing from the west ; I catch the glint 
here and there in the afternoon sun of the little rilla 
and creeks, coursing down the sides of the hills ; the 
awakening sounds about the farm and the woods reach 
my ear; and every rustle or movement of the air or 
on the earth seems like a pulse of returning life in 
Nature. I sympathize with that verdant Hibernian 
who liked sugar-making so well, that he thought he 
should follow it the whole year. I should at least 
be tempted to follow the season up the mountains, 
camping this week on one terrace, next week on one 
farther up, keeping just on the hem of Winter's gar- 
ment, and just in advance of the swelling buds, until 
my smoke went up through the last growth of maple 
that surrounds the summit. 

Maple sugar is peculiarly an American product, 
Uie discovery of it dating back in.*o the early history 
>f New England. The first settlers usually caught 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



Ill 



the sap in rude troughs, and boiled it down in ket- 
tles slung to a pole by a chain, the fire being built 
around them. The first step in the way of improve- 
ment was to use tin pans instead of troughs, and a 
large stone arch in which the kettles or caldrons were 
set with the fire beneath them. But of late years, as 
the question of fuel has become a more important 
one, greater improvements have been made. The 
arch has given place to an immense stove designed 
for that special purpose ; and the kettles to broad, 
shallow, sheet-iron pans, the object being to econo- 
mize all the heat, and to obtain the greatest possible 
extent of evaporating surface. 

March 15. — From the first to the middle of March 
the season made steady progress. There were no 
checks, no drawbacks. Warm, copious rains from the 
south and southwest, followed by days of unbroken 
sunshine. In the moist places — and what places are 
not moist at this season? — the sod buzzed like a 
hive. The absorption and filtration among the net- 
work of roots was an audible process. 

The clod fairly sang. How the trees responded 
also ! The silver poplars were masses of soft gray 
bloom, and the willows down toward the river seemed 
to have slipped off their old bark and on their new 
in a single night. The soft maples, too, when massed 
iu the distance, their tops deeply dyed in a bright 
maroon color, how fair they looked ! 

The 15th of the month was one of those charmed 
jays when the genius of God doth flow." The wind 



112 



A MARCH CHRONICLE. 



died away by mid-forenooD, and the day settled down 
so softly and lovingly upon the earth, touching every- 
thing, filling everything. The sky visibly came down= 
You could see it among the trees and between the 
hills. The sun poured himself into the earth as into 
a cup, and the atmosphere fairly swam with warmth 
and \\cr\\t. In the afternoon I walked out over the 
country roads north of the city. Innumerable columns 
of smoke were going up all around the horizon from 
burning brush and weeds, fields being purified by fire. 
The farmers were hauling out manure ; and I am free 
to confess, the odor of it, with its associations of the 
farm and the stable, of cattle and horses, was good in 
my nostrils. In the woods the li7erijaf and arbutus 
had just opened doubtingly ; and in the little pools 
great masses of frogs' spawn, with a milky tinge, were 
deposited. The youth who accompanied me brought 
some of it home in his handkerchief, to see it hatch 
in a goblet. 

The month came in like a lamb, and went out like 
a lamb, setting at naught the old. adage. The white 
fleecy clouds lay here and there, as if at rest, on the 
blue sky. The fields were a perfect emerald ; and 
:he lawns, with the new gold of the first dandelions 
sprinkled about, were lush with grass. In the parks 
and groves there was a faint mist of foliage, except 
among the willows, where there was not only a mist, 
but a perfect fountain-fall of green. In the distance 
\\\e river looked blue ; the spring freshets at last 
•jver ; and the ground settled, and the jocund season 
steps forth into April with a bright and confident look 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



The season is always a little behind the sun in our 
climate, just as the tide is always a little behind the 
moon. According to the calendar, the summer ought 
to culminate about the 21st of June, but in reality it 
IS some weeks later ; June is a maiden month all 
through. It is not high noon in nature till about the 
first or second week in July. When the chestnut- 
tree blooms, the meridian of the year is reached. By 
the first of August, it is fairly one o'clock. The lus- 
tre of the season begins to dim, the foliage of the 
trees and woods to tarnish, the plumage of the birds 
to fade, and their songs to cease. The hints of ap- 
proaching fall are on every hand. How suggestive 
this thistle-down, for instance, which, as I sit by the 
open window, comes in and brushes softly across my 
hand ! The first snow-flake tells of winter not more 
plainly than this driving down heralds the approach 
»f fall. Come here, my fairy, and tell me whence 
you come and whither you go ? What brings you 
to port here, you gossamer ship sailing the great 
Boa ? How exquisitely frail and delicate ! One of 
the lightest things in nature; so light that in tha 



116 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



closed room here it will hardly rest in my open palm. 
A feather is a clod beside it. Only a spider's web 
will hold it; coarser objects have no power over it. 
Caught in the upper currents of the air and rising 
above the clouds, it might sail perpetually. Indeed, 
one fancies it might almost traverse the interstellar 
ether and drive against the stars. And every thistle- 
head by the road-side holds hundreds of these sky- 
rovers — imprisoned Ariels unable to set themselves 
free. Their liberation may be by the shock of the wind, 
or the rude contact of cattle, but it is oftener the 
work of the goldfinch with its complaining brood. 
The seed of the thistle is the proper food of this bird, 
and in obtaining it, myriads of these winged creatures 
are scattered to the breeze. Each one is fraught 
with a seed which it exists to sow, but its wild ca- 
reering and soaring does not fairly begin till its bur- 
den is dropped, and its spheral form is complete. 
The seeds of many plants and trees are disseminated 
through the agency of birds ; but the thistle furnishes 
its own birds, — flocks of them, with wings more 
ethereal and tireless than were ever given to mortal 
ireature. From the pains Nature thus takes to sow 
the thistle broadcast over the land, it might be ex- 
pected to be one of the most troublesome and abun - 
dant of weeds. But such is not the case ; the more 
pernicious and baffling weeds, like snapdragon or 
blind-nettles, being more local and restricted in their 
habits, and unable to fly at all. 

In the fall, the battles of the spring are fough* 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



117 



tver again, beginning at the other, or little end of 
the series. There is the same advance and retreat, 
with many feints and alarms, between the contend- 
mg foixes that was witnessed in April and May. 
The spring comes like a tide running against a strong 
wind ; it is ever beaten back, but ever gaining ground, 
with DOW and then a mad " push upon the land " as 
if to overcome its antagonist at one blow. The cold 
from the north encroaches upon us in about the same 
fashion. Li September or early in October it usually 
makes a big stride forward and blackens all the 
more delicate plants, and hastens the " mortal ripen- 
mg"of the foliage of the trees, but it is presently 
beaten back again and the genial warmth repossesses 
the land. Before long, however, the cold returns to 
the charge with augmented forces and gains much 
ground. 

The course of the seasons never does run smooth, 
owing to the unequal distribution of land and water, 
mountain, wood, and plain. 

An equilibrium, however, is usually reached in our 
climate in October, sometimes the most marked in 
November, forming the delicious Indian summer ; a 
truce is declared and both forces, heat and cold, meet 
and mingle in friendly converse on the field. In the 
earlier season, this poise of the temperature, this 
slack water in nature, comes in May and June ; but 
Uie October calm is most marked. Day after day 
and sometimes week after week, you cannot tell whiclj 
W&j the rurrent is setting. Indeed, there is no cur 



118 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



rent, but the season seems to drift a little this way, 
or a little that, jiist as the breeze happens to freshen 
a little in one quarter or the other. The fall of '74 
was the most remarkable in this respect I remember 
ever to have seen. The equilibrium of the season 
lasted from the middle of October till near December, 
\nth scarcely a break. There were six weeks of In- 
dian summer, all gold by day, and when the moon 
came, all silver by night. The river was so smooth 
lit times as to be almost invisible, and in its place, 
was the indefinite continuation of the opposite shore 
down toward the nether world. One seemed to be in 
an enchanted land^ and to breathe all day the atmos- 
phere of fable and romance. Xot a smoke, but a 
kind of shining nimbus filled all the spaces. The 
vessels would drift by as if in mid air with all their 
sails set. The gypsy blood in one, as Lowell calls it, 
could hardly stay between four walls and see such 
days go by. Living in tents, in groves and on the 
hills, seemed the only natural life. 

Late in December we had glimpses of the same 
weather, — the earth had not yet passed all the golden 
isles. On the 27th of that month, I find I made this 
entry in my note-book : A soft hazy day, the year 
asleep and dreaming of the Indian summer again. 
Not a breath of air ari not a ripple on the river 
The sunshine is hot as it falls across my table.** 

Bu' what a terrible winter followed what a sav 
Hge chief the fair Indian maiden gave oirth to I 

Tliis halcyon period of our autumn will always ir 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



119 



gome way be associated with the Indian. It is reJ 
and yellow and dusky like him. The smoke of his 
camp-fire seems again in the air. The memory of 
him pervades the woods. His plumes and moccasins 
and blanket of skins form just the costume the season 
demands. It was doubtless his chosen period. The 
gods smiled upon him then if ever. The time of the 
chase, the season of the buck and the doe, and of the 
ripening of all forest fruits ; the time when all men 
are incipient hunters, when the first frosts have given 
pungency to the air, when to be abroad on the hills 
or in the woods is a delight that both old and young 
feel, — if the red aborigine ever had his summer of 
fullness and contentment, it must have been at this 
season, and it fitly bears his name. 

In how many respects fall imitates or parodies the 
spring ; it is indeed, in some of its features, a sort of 
second youth of the year. Things emerge and be- 
come conspicuous again. The trees attract all eyes 
as in May. The birds come forth from their summer 
privacy and parody their spring reunions and rival- 
ries ; some of them sing a little after a silence of 
.nonths. The robins, bluebirds, meadow-larks, spar- 
rows, crows — all sport, and call, and behave in a 
manner suggestive of spring. The cock grouse 
drums in the woods as he did in April and May. 
The pigeons reappear, and the wild geese and ducks. 
The witch-hazel blooms. The trout spawns. The 
streams are again full. The air is humid, and the 
vnoisture rises in the ground. Nature is breaking 
:amp, as in spring she was go'ng into camp. The 



120 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



spring yearning and restlessness is represented in one 
by the increased desire to travel. 

Spring is the inspiration, fall the expiration. Both 
seasons have their equinoxes, both their filmy, hazy 
air, their ruddy forest tints, their cold rains, their 
drenching fogs, their mystic moons; both have the 
same solar light and warmth, the same rays of the 
sun ; yet, after all, how different the feelings which 
they inspire! One is the morning, the other the 
evening ; one is youth, the other is age. 

The difference is not merely in us ; there is a sub- 
tle difference in the air and in the influences that 
emanate upon us from the dumb forms of nature. 
All the senses report a difference. The sun seems to 
have burned out. One recalls the notion of Herod- 
otus, that he is grown feeble, and retreats to tlie south 
because he can no longer face the cold and the storms 
from the north. There is a growing potency about 
his beams in spring ; a waning splendor about them 
in fall. One is the kindling fire ; the other the sub- 
siding flame. 

It is rarely that an artist succeeds in painting un- 
mistakably the difference between sunrise and sunset; 
and it is equally a trial of his skill to put upon can- 
vas the difference between early spring and late fall, 
say between April and November. It was long ago 
observed that the shadows are more opaque in the 
morning than in the evening ; the struggle between 
ihe light and the darkness more marked, the gloom 
more solid, the contrasts more sharp, etc. The raya 
•f the morning sun chisel out and cut down the sli»*i 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



121 



ows in a way those of the setting sun do not. Then 
the sunlight is whiter and newer in the morning, — 
not so yellow and diffused. A difference akin to this 
is true of the two seasons I am speaking of. The 
Bpring is the morning sunlight, clear and determined; 
the autumn the afternoon rays, pensive, lessening, 
golden. 

Does not the human frame yield to and sympa- 
thize with the seasons ? Are there not more births 
in the spring and more deaths in the fall ? In the 
spring one vegetates ; his thoughts turn to sap ; an- 
other kind of activity seizes him ; he makes new 
wood which does not harden till past midsummer. 
For my part, I find all literary work irksome from 
April to August my sympathies run in other chan- 
nels ; the grass grows where meditation walked. As 
fall approaches, the currents mount to the head again. 
But my thoughts do not ripen well till after there has 
been a frost. The burrs will not open much before 
that. A man's thinking, I take it, is a kind of com- 
bustion, as is the ripening of fruits and leaves, and he 
wants plenty of oxygen in the air. 

Then the earth seems to have become a positive 
n.agnet in the fall ; the forge and anvil of the sun 
have had their effect. In the spring it is negative to 
all intellectual conditions and drains one of his light- 
ning. 

To-day, October 21st, I found the air in the bushj 
Qelds and lanes under the woods loaded with the per 
fume of the witch-hazel — a sweetish, sickening odor 
With the blooming of this bush, Nuture says, " posi- 



122 



AUTUaiK TIDES. 



lively the last." It is a kind of birth in death, oi 
Epring in fall, that impresses one as a little nncanny. 
All trees and shrubs form their flower buds in the 
fall, and keep the secret till spring. How comes the 
witch-hazel to be the one exception and to celebrate 
its floral nuptials on the funereal day of its foliage ? 
No doubt it will be found that the spirit of some love- 
lorn sqnaw has passed into this bush, and that this m 
why it blooms in the Indian summer rathtr than in 
the white man's spring. 

But it makes the floral series of the woods com- 
plete. Between it and the shad-blow of earliest spring 
lies the mountain of bloom; the latter at the base on 
one side, this at the base on the other, with the chest- 
nut blossoms at the top in midsummer. 

A peculiar feature of our fall may sometimes be 
Been of a clear afternoon late in the season. Look- 
ing athwart the fields under the sinking sun the 
ground appears covered with a shining veU of gos- 
samer. A feiry net, invisible at mid-day and which 
the position of the sun now reveals, rests upon the 
stubble and upon the spears of grass, covering acres 
in extent, — the work of innumerable little spiders. 
The cattle walk through it but do not seem to 
break it. Perhaps a fly would make his mark upon 
it. At the same time, stretching from the tops of the 
trees, or from the top of a stake in the fence, anO 
leading off toward the sky may be seen the cables ol 
he Hying spider, — a Mry bridge fi om the visible tc 
Ihe invisible. OccasionaUy seen against a deep mav 

sbadow, and perhaps enlarged by clinging partidet 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



123 



of dust, they show quite plainly and sag down like a 
Itretched rope, or sway and undulate like a hawser 
in the tide. 

They recall a verse of our rugged poet, Walt Whit« 
man : — 

** A noiseless patient spider, 
I mark'd where, in a little promontory, it stood isolated : 
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surroundinj^, 
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself; 
Ever unreeling them — ever tirelessly spreading them. 

* And you, my soul, where you stand, 
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space, 
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, — 
Seeking the spheres to connect them. 

Till the bridge you will need he formed — till the ductile anchoi 
hold ; 

Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, my soul.*' 

To return a little, September may be described as 
the month of tall weeds. Where they have been suf- 
fered to stand, along fences, by road-sides, and in for- 
gotten corners, — red-root, pig- weed, rag-weed, ver- 
vain, golden-rod, burdock, elecampane, thistles, teasels, 
nettles, asters, etc., — how they lift themselves up as if 
not afraid to be seen now ! They are all outlaws ; every 
man's hand is against them ; yet how surely they hold 
their own ! They love the road-side, because here 
they are comparatively safe ; and ragged and dusty, 
!ike the common tramps that they are, they form one 
jf the characteristic features of early fall. 

I have often noticed in what haste certain weeds 
Bre at times to produce their seeds. Red-root will 
PTOW three or four feet high when it has the whole 



124 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



Beason before it ; but let it get a late start, let it come 
up in August, and it scarcely gets above the ground 
before it heads out and apparently goes to work with 
all its might and main to mature its seed. In the 
growth of most plants or weeds, April and May rep- 
resent their root, June and July their stalk, and Au- 
gust and September their flower and seed. Hence 
when the stalk months are stricken out as in the pres* 
ent case there is only time for a shallow root and a 
foreshortened head. I think most weeds that get a 
late start show this curtailment of stalk and this solici- 
tude to reproduce themselves. But I have not ob- 
served that any of the cereals are so worldly wise. 
They have not had to think and shift for themselves 
as the weeds have. It does indeed look like a kind 
of forethought in the red-root. It is killed by the 
first frost, and hence knows the danger of delay. 

How rich in color, before the big show of the tree 
foliage has commenced, our road-sides are in places in 
early autumn, — rich to the eye that goes hurriedly 
by and does not look too closely, — with the profu- 
sion of golden-rod and blue and purple asters dashed 
in upon here and there with the crimson leaves of 
the dwarf sumac ; and at intervals, rising out of the 
.ence corner or crowning a ledge of rocks, the dark 
green of the cedars with the still fire of the woodbine 
at its heart. I wonder if the way-sides of other lands 
V)reseut any analogous spectacles at this season. 

Then when the maples have burst out into color 
showing like great bonfires along the hills, there is in 
ieed a feast for the eye. A maple before your win 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



125 



dows in October, when the sun shhies upon it, will 
make up for a good deal of the light it has excluded ; 
it fills the room with a soft golden glow. 

Thoreau, I believe, was the first to remark upon 
the individuality of trees of the same species with re- 
spect to their foliage, — some maples ripening their 
leaves early and some late, and some being of one tint 
and some of another ; and moreover, that each tree 
held to the same characteristics, year after year. 
There is indeed ns great a variety among the maples 
fts among the trees of an apple orchard ; some are 
harvest apples, some are fall apples, and some are 
winter apples, each with a tint of its own. Those 
late ripeners are the winter varieties — the Rhode 
Island greenings or swaars of their kind. The red 
maple is the early astrachan. Then comes the red- 
Btreak, the yellow-sweet, and others. There are wind- 
falls among them too, as among the apples, and one 
side or hemisphere of the leaf is usually brighter 
than the other. 

The ash has been less noticed for its autumnal foli- 
age than it deserves. The richest shades of plum 
color to be seen — becoming by and by, or, in certain 
lights, a deep maroon — are afforded by this tree. 
Then at a distance there seems to be a sort of 
bloom upon it as upon the grape or plum. Amid a 
grove of yellow maple, it makes a most pleasing con- 
trast. 

By mid- October, most of the Rip Van Winkles 
among our brute creatures have lain down for thei? 
*int«r nap. The toads and turtles have buried thora 



126 



AUTUilN TIDES. 



selves in the earth. The woodchuck is in his hiber* 
naculum, the skunk in his, the mole in his ; and the 
black bear has his selected, and will go in when the 
snow comes. He does not like the looks of his big 
tracks in the snow. They publish liis goings and 
comings too plainly. The coon retires about lh«3 
same time. The provident wood-mice and the chip- 
munk are laying by a winter supply of nuts or grain, 
the former usually in decayed trees, the- latter in the 
ground. I have observed that any unusual disturb- 
ance in the woods, near where the chipmunk has his 
den, will cause him to shift his quarters. One Octo- 
ber, for many successive days I saw one carrying into 
his hole buckwheat which he had stolen from a near 
field. The hole was only a few rods from where we 
were getting out stone, and as our work progressed 
and the racket and uproar increased, the chipmunk 
became alarmed. He ceased carrying in, and after 
much hesitating and darting about, and some pro- 
longed absences, he began to carry out ; he had de- 
t-ermined to move ; if the mountain fell. he. at least, 
would be away in time. So by mouthfuls, or cheek- 
fuls, the grain was transferred to a new place. He 
did not make a bee" to get it done, but carried it all 
himself, occupying several days, and making a trip 
about every ten minutes. 

The red and gray squirrels do not lay by winter 
stores ; their cheeks are made without pockets, and 
whatever they transport is carried in the teeth. They 
ire more or less active all winter, but October and 
KoYsmber are their festal months. Invade some but- 



AUTUMN TIDES. 



127 



tern lit or hickory -nut grove on a frosty October 
morning, and hear the red squirrel beat the "juba" 
on a horizontal branch. It is a most lively jig, what 
the boys call a "regular break-down," interspersed 
with squeals and snickers and derisive laughter. The 
most noticeable peculiarity about the vocal part of it 
is the fact that it is a kind of duet. In other words, 
by some ventriloqual tricks he appears to accompany 
himself, as if his voice split up, a part forming a low 
guttural sound, and a part a shrill nasal sound. 

The distant bark of the more wary gray squirrel 
may be heard about the same time. There is a teas- 
ing and ironical tone in it also, but the gray squirrel 
is not the Puck the red is. 

Insects also go into winter-quarters by or before 
this time ; the bumble-bee, hornet, and wasp. But 
here only royalty escapes ; the queen-mother alone 
foresees the night of winter coming and the morning 
of spring beyond. The rest of the tribe'try gypsying 
for a while, but perish in the first frosts. The present 
October I surprised the queen of the yellow-jackets 
in the woods looking out a suitable retreat. The 
royal dame was house-hunting, and on being dis- 
turbed by my inquisitive poking among the leaves, 
she got up and flew away with a slow, deep hum. 
Her body was unusually distended, whether with fat 
t)r eggs I am unable to saj. In September I took 
down the nest of the black hornet and found several 
large queens in it, but the workers had all gone 
The queens were evidently weathering the first frosti 
xnd fttorms here, and waiting for4he Indian sijinmer 



128 



AUTUilN TIDES. 



to go forth and ?eek a permaDent winter abode. D 
the covers couki be taken off the fields and woods at 
this season, how many interesting facts of natural 
history would be revealed ! The crickets, ants, bees, 
reptiles, animals, and, for aught I know, the spiders 
and flies asleep or getting ready to sleep in their win- 
ter dormitories ; the fires of life banked up and burn- 
ing just enough to keep the spark over till spring. 

The fish all run down the stream in the fall except 
the trout ; it runs up or stays up and spawns in No- 
vember, the male becoming as brilliantly tinted a^ 
the deepest dyed maple leaf I have often wondered 
why the trout spawns in the fall instead of in the 
spring, like other fish. Is it not because a full supply 
of clear spring water can be counted on at that season 
more than at any other ? The brooks are not so 
liable to be suddenly muddied by heavy showers and 
defiled with the washings of the roads and fields as 
they are in spring and summer. The artificial breeder 
finds that absolute purity of water is necessary to 
hatch the spawn ; also that shade and a low tempera- 
ture are indispensable. 

Our northern November day Uself is like spring 
water. It is melted frost, dissolved snow. There is 
ft chill in it and an exhilaration also. The forenoon 
is all mornin^r and the afternoon all eveninor. The 
shadows seem to come forth and to revenge them- 
selves upon the day. The sunlight is diluted with 
darkness. The colors fade from the landscape and 
inly the sheen of the river lights up the gray and 
trown distance. 



THE APPLE. 



THE APPLE. 



Lo I sweetened with the summer light, 
The fuII-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, 
Drops in a silent autumn night. — Tennysow 

Not a little of the sunshine of our northern \^ in- 
ters is surely wrapped up in the apple. How could 
we winter over without it ! How is life sweetened 
by its mild acids ! A cellar well filled with apples is 
more valuable than a chamber filled with flax and 
wool. So much sound ruddy life to draw upon, to 
strike one's roots down into, as it were. 

Especially to those whose soil of life is inclined to 
be a little clayey and heavy, is the apple a winter 
necessity. It is the natural antidote of most of the 
ills the flesh is heir to. Full of vegetable acids and 
aromatics, qualities which act as refrigerants and an- 
tiseptics, what an enemy it is to jaundice, indigestion, 
torpidity of liver, etc. It is a gentle spur and tonic 
to the whole biliary system. Then I have read that 
t has been found by anal^^sis ^o contain more phos- 
phorus than any other vegetable. This makes it the 
proper food of the scholar and the sedentary man ; it 
feeds his brain and it stimulates his liver. Neither is 



182 



THE APPLE. 



this all. Beside its hygienic properties, the apple :>8 
full of sugar and mucilage, which make it highly 
Dutritious. It is said "The operators of Cornwall, 
England, consider ripe apples nearly as nourishing as 
bread, and far more so than potatoes. In the year 
1801 — which was a year of much scarcity — apples, 
nstead of being converted into cider, were sold to the 
poor, and the laborers asserted that they could ' stand 
their work' on baked apples without meat; whereas 
a potato diet required either meat or some other sub- 
stantial nutriment. The French and Germans use 
apples extensively, so do the inhabitants of all Euro- 
pean nations. The laborers depend upon them as 
an article of food, and frequently make a dinner of 
sliced apples and bread." 

Yet the English apple is a tame and insipid affair, 
compared with the intense, sun -colored and sun- 
steeped fruit our orchards yield. The English have 
no sweet apple I am told, the saccharine element ap- 
parently being less abundant in vegetable nature in 
that sour and chilly climate than in our own. It is 
well known that the European maple yields no sugar, 
while both our birch and hickory have sweet in their 
veins. Perhaps this fact accounts for our excessive 
love of sweets which may be said to be a national 
trait. 

The Russian apple has a lovely complexion, smooth 
and transparent, but the Cossack is not yet all elimL 
aated from it. The only une I have seen — the 
Duchess of Oldenburg — is as beautiful as a Tartai 



THE APPLE. 



133 



princess, with a distracting odor, but it is the least bit 
puckery to the taste. 

The best thing I know about Chili is not its guano 
beds, but this fact which I learn from Darwin's " Voy- 
age," namely, that the apple thrives well there. Dar- 
win saw a town there so completely buried in a wood 
of apple-trees, that its streets were merely paths in 
an orchard. The tree indeed thrives so well, that 
I'arge branches cut off in the spring and planted two 
or three feet deep in the ground send out roots and 
develop into fine full-bearing trees by the third year. 
The people know the value of the apple too. They 
make cider and wine of it and then from the refuse u 
white and finely flavored spirit; then by another 
process a sweet treacle is obtained called honey. The 
children and pigs ate little or no other food. He 
does not add that the people are healthy and temper- 
ate, but T have no doubt they are. We knew the 
apple had many virtues, but these Chilians have really 
opened a deep beneath a deep. We had found out 
the cider and the spirits, but who guessed the wine 
and the honey, except it were the bees ? There is 
a variety in our orchards called the winesap, a doubly 
liquid name that suggests what might be done with 
this fruit. 

The apple is the commonest and yet the most 
varied and beautiful of fruits. A dish of them is as 
becoming to the centre-table in winter as was the vase 
of flowers in the summer, — a bouquet of spitzen 
oergs and greenings and northern spies. A rose whe» 



134 



THE APPLE. 



»t blooms, the apple is a rose when its ripens. It 
pleases every sense to which it can be addressed, the 
touch, the smell, the sight, the taste ; and when it falls 
in the still October days it pleases the ear. It is a 
call to a banquet, it is a signal that the feast is ready. 
The bough would fain hold it, but it can now asser 
its independence ; it can now live a life of its own. 

Daily the stem relaxes its hold, till finally it lets 
go completely and down comes the painted sphere 
with a mellow thump to the earth, toward which it 
has been nodding so long. It bounds away to seek 
its bed, to hide under a "leaf, or in a tuft of grass. It 
will now take time to meditate and ripen ! What 
delicious thoughts it has there nestled with its fellows 
under the fence, turning acid into sugar, and sugar 
into wine ! 

How pleasing to the touch. I love to stroke its 
polished rondure with my hand, to carry it in my 
pocket on my tramp over the winter hills, or through 
the early spring woods. You are company, you red- 
cheeked spitz, or you salmon-fleshed greening ! I toy 
with you ; press your face to mine, toss you in the air, 
roll you on the ground, see you shine out where you 
lie amid the moss and dry leaves and sticks. You 
fire so alive ! You glow like a ruddy flower. You 
look so animated I almost expect to see you move I 
I postpone the eating of you, you are so beautiful ! 
How compact ; how exqiusitely tinted ! Stained by 
the sun and varnished against the rains. An inde- 
oeodeut vegetable existence, alive and vascular as 



THE APPLE. 



135 



my own flesh ; capable of being wounded, bleeding 
wasting away, or almost repairing damages ! 

How they resist the cold ! holding out almost aa 
long as the red cheeks of the boys do. A frost that 
destroys the potatoes and other roots only makes the 
apple more crisp and vigorous ; they peep out from 
the chance November snows unscathed. When I see 
the fruit vender on the street corner stamping his feet 
and beating his hands to keep them warm and his 
naked apples lying exposed to the blasts, I wonder 
if they do not ache too to clap their hands and en- 
liven their circulation. But they can stand it nearly 
as long as the vender can. 

Noble common fruit, best fiiend of man and most 
loved by him, following him like his dog or his cow, 
wherever he goes. His homestead is not planted till 
you are planted, your roots intertwine with his ; thriv- 
ing best where he thrives best, loving the limestone 
and the frost, the plow and the pruning-knife, you 
are indeed suggestive of hardy, cheerful industry, and 
a healthy life in the open air. Temperate, chaste 
fruit ! you mean neither luxury nor sloth, neither 
satiety nor indolence, neither enervating heats nor 
the Frigid Zones. Uncloying fruit, fruit whose best 
lauce is the open air, whose finest flavors only he 
whose taste is sharpened by brisk work or walking ^ 
knows ; winter fruit, when the fire of life burns 
brightest ; fruit alwa3^s a little hyperborean, leaning 
V)ward the cold; bracing, sub-acid, active fruit. I 
ihiuk you must come from the north, you are so frank 



136 



THE APPLE. 



ftnd honest, so sturdy and appetizing. You are stocky 
and homely like the northern races. Your quality is 
Saxon. Surely the fiery and impetuous south is not 
akin to thee. Not spices or olives or the sumptuous 
liquid fruits, but the grass, the snow, the grains, the 
coolness is akin to thee. I think if I could subsist on 
you or the like of you, I should never have an intem- 
perate or ignoble thought, never be feverish or de- 
spondent. So far as I could absorb or transmute 
your quality I should be cheerful, continent, equitable, 
sweet-blooded, long-lived, and should shed warmth 
and contentment around. 

Is there any other fruit that has so much facial ex- 
pression as the apple? What boy does not more than 
half believe they can see with that single eye of theirs ? 
Do they not look and nod to him from the bough? 
The swaar has one look, the rambo another, the spy 
another. The youth recognizes the seek-no-further 
buried beneath a dozen other varieties, the moment 
he catches a glance of its eye, or the bonny-cheeked 
Newtown pipin, or the gentle but sharp-nosed gilli- 
flower. He goes to the great bin in the cellar and 
sinks his shafts here and there in the garnered weaUh 
of the orchards, mining for his favorites, sometimes 
•coming plump upon them, sometimes catching a 
^rlimpse of them to the right or left, or uncovering 
them as keystones in an arch made up of many varie- 
ties. 

In the dark he can usually tell them by the sense 
3f touch. There is lot only the size and shape, but 



THE APPLE. 



137 



there is the texture and polish. Some apples are 
coarse-grained and some are fine ; some are thin 
skinned and some are thick. One variety is quick 
and vigorous beneath the touch ; another gentle and 
yielding. The pinnock has a thick skin with a 
spongy lining, a bruise in it becomes like a piece of 
cork. The tallow apple has an unctuous feel as its 
name suggests. It sheds water like a duck. . What 
apple is that with a fat curved stem that blends so 
prettily with jts own flesh, — the- wine-apple ? Some 
varieties impress me as masculine, — weather-stained, 
freckled, lasting and rugged ; others are indeed lady 
apples, fair, delicate, shining, mild-flavored, white- 
meated, like the egg-drop and lady-finger. The prac- 
ticed hand knows each kind by the touch. 

Do you remember the apple hole in the garden or 
back of the house, Ben Bolt ? In the fall after the 
bins in the cellar had been well stocked, we excavated 
a circular pit in the warm mellow earth and covering 
the bottom with clean rye straw, emptied in basketftd 
after basketful of hardy choice varieties, till there was 
a tent-shaped mound several feet high of shining 
variegated fruit. Then wrapping it about with a thick 
layer of long rye straw, and tucking it up snug and 
warm, the mound was covered with a thin coating of 
^arth, a flat stone on the top holding down the straw 
winter set in another coating of earth was put upon 
^t, with perhaps an overcoat o^ coarse dry stable ma- 
Duro, and the precious pile was left in silence and 
larkuess till spring. No marmot hibernating under 



138 



IriE APPLE. 



ground in his nest of leaves and dry grass, more cosy 
and warm. No frost, no wet, but fragrant privacy 
and quiet. Then how the earth tempers and flavors 
the apples ! It draws out all the acrid unripe quali 
ties, and infuses into them a subtle refreshing taste 
of the soil. Some varieties perish, but the ranker, 
hardier kinds, like the northern spy, the greening, or 
the black apple, or the russet, or the pinnock, how 
they ripen and grow in grace, how the green becomes 
gold, and the bitter becomes sweet ! 

As the supply in the bins and barrels gets low and 
spring approaches, the buried treasures in the garden 
are remembered. With spade and axe we go out and 
penetrate through the snow and frozen earth till the 
inner dressing of straw is laid bare. It is not quite 
as clear and bright as when we placed it there last 
fall, but the fruit beneath, which the hand soon ex- 
poses, is just as bright and far more luscious. Then, 
as day after day you resort to the hole, and removing 
the straw and earth from the opening, thrust your 
arm into the fragrant pit, you have a better chance 
;han ever before to become acquainted with your 
favorites by the sense of touch. How you feel for 
them, reaching to the right and left ? Now you have 
got a Tolman sweet ; you imagine you can feel that 
single meridian line that divides it into two hemis- 
pheies. Now a greening fills your hand, you feel its 
iSne quality beneath its rough coat. Now you have 
at jked a swaar, you recognize its full face; now a 
^andevere or a King rolls down from the apex above 



THE APPLE. 



139 



%iid you bag it at once. When you were a school- 
boy you stowed these away in your pockets and ate 
thein along the road and at recess, and again at noon- 
time ; and they, in a measure, corrected the effects 
of the cake and pie with which your indulgent mother 
filled your lunch-basket. 

The boy is indeed the true apple-eater, and is not 
to be questioned how he came by the fruit with which 
his pockets are filled. It belongs to him and he may 
steal it if it cannot be had in any other way. His 
own juicy flesh craves the juicy flesh of the apple. 
Sap draws sap. His fruit eating has little reference 
to the state of his appetite. Whether he be full of 
meat or empty of meat he wants the apple just the 
same. Before meal or after meal it never comes 
amiss. The farm-boy munches apples all day long. 
He has nests of them in the hay-mow, mellowing, to 
which he makes frequent visits. Sometimes old 
Brindle, having access through the open door, smells 
them out and makes short work of them. 

In some countries the custom remains of placing a 
rDsy apple in the hand of the dead that they may 
find it when they enter paradise. In northern my- 
thology the giants eat apples to keep off old age. 

The apple is indeed the fruit of youth. As we 
grow old we crave apples less. It is an ominous 
sign. When you are ashamed to be seen eating them 
on the street ; when you can carry them in your 
^ocket and your hand not constantly find its way to 
^hem ; when your neighbor has apples and you have 



140 



THE APPLL, 



Done, and you make no nocturnal visits to his or* 
chard ; when your luDch-basket is without them and 
jrou can pass a winter's night by the fireside with no 
thought of the fruit at your elbow, then be assured 
you are no longer a boy, either in heart or years. 

The genuine apple-eater comforts himself with an 
apple in their season as others with a pipe or cigar. 
When he has nothing else to do, or is bored, he eata 
an apple. While he is waiting for the train he eats 
an apple, sometimes several of them. When he 
takes a walk he arms himself with apples. His trav- 
eling bag is full of apples. He offers an apple to 
his companion, and takes one himself. They are his 
chief solace when on the road. He sows their seed 
all along the route. He tosses the core from the car 
window and from the top of the stage-coach. He 
would, in time, make the land one vast orchard. He 
dispenses with a knife. He prefers that his teeth 
shall have the first taste. Then he knows the best 
flavor is immediately beneath the skin, and that in a 
pared apple this is lost. If you will stew the apple, 
he says, instead of baking it, by all means leave 
ihe skin on. It improves the color and vastly height- 
ens the flavor of the dish. 

The apple is a masculine fruit ; hence women are 
poor apple-eaters. It belongs to the open air, and 
requires an open air taste and relish. 

I instantly sympathized with that clergyman I 
read of, who on pulling out his pocket-handkerchief 
in the midst of his discourse, pulled out two bounc- 



THE APPLE. 



141 



fog apples with it that went rolling across the pulpit 
floor and down the pulpit stairs. These apples were, 
DO doubt, to be eaten after the sermon on his way 
home, or to his next appointment. They would take 
the taste of it out of his mouth. Then, would a 
minister be apt to grow tiresome with two big apples 
in his coat-tail pockets? Would he not naturally 
hasten along to " lastly," and the big apples ? If they 
were the dominie apples, and it was April or May, 
he certainly would. 

How the early settlers prized the apple ! When 
their trees broke down or were split asunder by the 
storms, the neighbors turned out, the divided tree was 
put together again and fastened with iron bolts. In 
some of the oldest orchards one may still occasionally 
see a large dilapidated tree with the rusty iron bolt 
yet visible. Poor, sour fruit, too, but sweet in those 
early pioneer days. My grandfather, who was one 
of these heroes of the stump, used every fall to make 
a journey of forty miles for a few apples, which he 
brought home in a bag on horseback. He frequently 
etarted from home by two or three o'clock in the 
morning, and at one time both himself and horse 
were much frightened by the screaming of panthers 
in a narrow pass in the mountains through which the 
road led. 

Emerson, I believe, has spoken of the apple as the 
Bocial fruit of New England. Indeed, what a pro- 
«ioter or abettor of social intercourse among our rura 
population the apple has been, the company grow 



142 



THE APPLE. 



big more merry and unrestrained as soon as the bas- 
ket of apples was passed round. When the cider 
followed, the introduction and good understanding 
were complete. Then those rural gatherings that en- 
livened the autumn in the country, known as " apple 
cuts," now, alas ! nearly obsolete, where so many 
things were cut and dried besides apples ! The 
larger and more loaded the orchard, the more fre- 
quently the invitations went round and the higher 
the social and convivial spirit ran. Ours is eminently 
a country of the orchard. . Horace Greeley said he 
had seen no land in which the orchard formed such 
a prominent feature in the rural and agricultural dis- 
tricts. Nearly every farmhouse in the Eastern and 
Northern States has its setting or its background of 
apple-trees, which generally date back to the first 
settlement of the farm. Indeed, the orchard, more 
than almost any other thing, tends to soften and hu- 
manize the country, and give the place of which it is 
an adjunct, a settled, domestic look. The apple-tree 
takes the rawness and wildness off any scene. On 
the top of a mountain, or in remote pastures, it sheds 
the sentiment of home. It never loses its domestic 
air, or lapses into a wild state. And in planting a 
homestead, or in choosing a building site for the new 
house, what a help it is to have a few old, maternal 
apple-trees near by ; regular old grandmothers, who 
have seen trouble, who have been sad and glad 
through so many winters and summers, who have 
tflossomed till the air about them is sweeter than els©" 



THE APPLE. 



14a 



where, and borne fruit till the grass beneath them has 
become thick and soft from human contact, and who 
have nourished robins and finches in their branches 
till they have a tender, brooding look. The ground, 
the turf, the atmosphere of an old orchard, seem 
83veral stages nearer to man than that of the adjoin- 
ing field, as if the trees had given back to the soil 
more than they had taken from it; as if they had 
tempered the elements and attracted all the genial 
and beneficent influences in the landscape around. 

An apple orchard is sure to bear you several crops 
beside the apple. There is the crop of sweet and ten- 
der reminiscences dating from childhood and span- 
ning the seasons from May to October, and making 
the orchard a sort of outlying part of the household. 
You have played there as a child, mused there as a 
youth or lover, strolled there as a thoughtful, sad- 
eyed man. Your father, perhaps, planted the trees, 
or reared them from the seed, and you yourself have 
pruned and grafted them, and worked among them, 
wU every separate tree has a peculiar history and 
meaning in your mind. Then there is the never- 
failing crop of birds — robins, goldfinches, king-birds, 
cedar-birds, hair-birds, orioles, starlings — all nest- 
ing and breeding in its branches, and fitly described 
oy Wilson Flagg, as " Birds of the Garden and Or- 
chard." Whether the pippin and sweetbough bear 
or not, the " punctual birds " can always be depended 
on. Indeed, there are few better places to study orni- 
♦iology than in the orchard. Besides its regular oo 



144 



THE APPLE. 



cupants, many of the birds of the deeper forest find 
occasion to visit it during the season. The cuckoo 
comes for the tent-caterpillar, the jay for frozen ap- 
ples, the ruffed grouse for buds, the crow foraging for 
birds' eggs, the woodpecker and chickadees for thei> 
food, and the high-hole for ants. The red-bird come> 
too, if only to see what a friendly covert its branches 
form, and the wood-thrush now and then comes out 
of tlie grove near by, and nests alongside of its cousin, 
the robin. The smaller hawks know that this is a 
most likely spot for their prey, and in spring the shy 
northern warblers may be studied as they pause to 
feed on the fine insects amid its branches. The mice 
love to dwell here also, and liither come fi'om the 
near woods the squirrel and the rabbit. The latter 
will put liis head through the boy^s slipper-noose any 
time for a taste of the sweet apple, and the red squir- 
rel and chipmunk esteem its seeds a great rarity. 

All the domestic animals love the apple, but none 
60 much so as the cow. The taste of it wakes her 
up as few other things do, and bars and fences must 
be well looked after. No need to assort them or 
\\ick out the ripe ones for her. An apple is an ap- 
ple, and there is no best about it. I heard of a quick- 
witted old cow that learned to shake them down from 
the tree. While rubbing herself she had observed 
that an apple sometimes fell. This stimulated her to 
rub a little harder, when more apples fell. She then 
took the hint and rubbed her shoulder with such 
vigor that the farmer had to check her and keep as 
l^TC on her to save his fruiu 



THE APPLE. 



145 



But the cow is the friend of the apple. How many 
trees she has planted about the farm, in the edge of 
the woods, and in remote fields and pastures. The 
wild apples, celebrated by Thoreau, are mostly of her 
planting. She browses them down to be sure, but 
they are hers, and wliy should she not? 

What an individuality the apple-tree has, each va- 
riety being nearly as marked by its form as by its 
fruit. What a vigorous grower, for instance, is the 
Ribston pippin, an English apple. Wide branching 
like the oak, and its large ridgy fruit, in late fall or 
early winter, is one of my favorites. Or the thick 
and more pendent top of the belleflower, with its 
equally rich, sprightly, uncloyiiig fruit. 

Sweet apples are perhaps the most nutritious, and 
when baked are a feast of themselves. With a tree 
of the Jersey sweet or of Tolman's sweeting in bear- 
ing, no man's table need be devoid of luxuries and 
one of the most wholesome of all deserts. Or the 
red astrachan, an August apple, what a gap may be 
filled in the culinary department of a household at this 
season, by a single tree of this fruit ! And' what a 
feast is its shining crimson coat to the eye before its 
snow-white flesh has reached the tongue. But the 
apple of apples for the household is the spitzenberg. 
In this casket Pomona has put her highest flavors. 
It can stand the ordeal of cooking, and still remain 
a spitz. I recently saw a barrel of these apples from 
the orchard of a fruit grower in the northern part of 
New York, who has devoted especial attention to 
10 



146 



THE APPLE. 



this variety. They were perfect gems. Not large, 
that had not been the aim, but smalL fair, uniform, 
and red to the core. How intense, how spicy and 
aromatic. 

But all the excellences of the apple are not con- 
fined to the cultivated fruit. Occasionally a seedling 
springs up about the farm that produces fruit of rare 
beauty and worth. In sections peculiarly adapted to 
the apple, like a certain belt along the Hudson River, 
I have noticed that most of the wild unbidden treea 
bear good, edible fruit. In cold and ungenial districts, 
the seedlings are mostly sour and crabbed, but in 
more favorable soils they are oftener mild and sweet, 
I know wild apples that ripen in August, and that do 
not need, if it could be had, Thoreau's sauce of sharp, 
November air to be eaten with. At the foot of a 
hill near me and striking its roots deep in the shale, 
is a giant specimen of native tree that bears an apple 
that has about the clearest, waxiest, most transparent 
complexion I ever saw. It is good size, and the 
color of a tea rose. Its quality is best appreciated in 
the kitchen. I know another seedling of excellent 
quality and so remarkable for its firmness and den- 
sity, that it is known on the farm where it grows as 
the *' heavy apple." 

I have alluded to Thoreau, to whom all lovers of 
the apple and its tree are under obligation. His 
chapter on AVild Apples is a most delicious piece of 
•mling. It has a " tang and smack "like the frui* 
•t celebrates, and is dashed and streaked with colo 



THE APPLE. 



147 



in the same manner. It has the hue and perfume of 
the crab, and the richness and raciness of the pippin. 
But Thoreau loved other apples than the wild sorts 
and was obliged to confess that his favorites could 
not be eaten in doors. Late in November he found 
a blue-pearmain tree growing within the edge of a 
Bwamp. almost as good as wild. "You would not 
Buppose," he says, " that there was any fruit left there 
on the first survey, but you must look according to 
system. Those which lie exposed are quite brown 
and rotten now, or perchance a few still show one 
blooming cheek here and there amid the wet leaves. 
Nevertheless, with experienced eyes I explore amid 
the bare alders, and the huckleberry bushes, and the 
withered sedge, and in the crevices of the rocks, which 
are full of leaves, and pry under the fallen and decayed 
ferns which, with apple and alder leaves, thickly 
strew the ground. For I know that they lie con- 
cealed, fallen into hollows long since, and covered up 
by the leaves of the tree itself — a proper kind of 
packing. From these lurki'ng places, everywhere 
within the circumference of the tree, I draw forth the 
fruit all wet and glossy, may be nibbled by rabbits 
and hollowed out by crickets, and perhaps a leaf or two 
cemented to it (as Curzon an old manuscript from a 
monastery's mouldy cellar), but still with a rich bloom 
on it, and at least as ripe and well kept, if no better 
than those in barrels, more crisp and lively than they. 
If these resources fail to yield anything, I have 
earned to look between the leaves of the suckers 



148 



THE APPLE. 



which spring thickly from some horizontal limb, for 
DOW and then one lodges there, or in the very midst 
of an alder-clump, where they are covered by leaves, 
safe from cows which may have smell ed them out. 
If I am sharp-set, for I do not refuse the blue- 
pearmain, I fill my pockets on each side ; and as I 
retrace my steps, in the frosty eve, being perhaps four 
or five miles from home, I eat one first from this side, 
and then from that, to keep my balance," 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



I WILL say at the outset, as I believe some one else 
has saia ou a like occasion, that in this narrative I 
shall probably describe myself more than the objects 
I look upon. The facts and particulars of the case 
have already been set down in the guide-books and 
in innumerable books of travel. I shall only at- 
tempt to give an account of the pleasure and satisfac- 
tion I had in comins: face to face with things in the 
mother country, seeing them as I did with kindred 
and sympathizing'eyes. 

The ocean was a dread fascination to me — a 
world whose dominion I had never entered ; but I 
proved to be such a wretched sailor that I am obliged 
to confess, Hibernian-fashion, that the happiest mo- 
ment I spent upon the sea was when I set my foot 
upon the land. 

It is a wide and fearful gulf that separates the two 
worlds. The landsman can know little of the wild- 
uess, savageness, and mercilessness of nature till he 
aac been upon the sea. It is as if he had taken a 
leap off into the interstellar spaces. In voyaging to 
Mars or Jupiter he might cross such a desert — 



152 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



might confront such awful purity and coldness. An 
astronomic solitariness and remoteness encompass 
the sea. The earth and all remembrance of it is 
blotted out ; there is no hint of it anywhere. This 
is not water, this cold, blue-black, vitreous liquid. It 
suggests not life but death. Indeed, the regions of 
everlasting ice and snow are not more cold and in- 
human than is the sea. 

Almost the only thing about my first sea voyage 
that I remember with pleasure is the circumstance of 
the little birds that, during the first few days out, 
took refuge on the steamer. The first afternoon, 
just as we were losing sight of land, a delicate little 
wood bird, — the black and white creeping warbler, 
— having lost its reckoning, in making perhaps its 
first southern voyage, came aboard. It was much 
fatigued and had a disheartened, demoralized look. 
After an hour or two it disappeared, having, I fear, a 
hard pull to reach the land in the face of the wind 
that was blowing, if indeed it reached it at all. 

The next day, just at night, I observed a small 
hawk sailing about conveniently near the vessel, but 
with a very lofty, independent mien, as if he had just 
happened that way on his travels, and was only 
lingering to take a good view of us. It was amus- 
ing to observe his coolness and haughty unconcern 
n that sad plight he was in ; by nothing in his man- 
\ er betraying that he was several hundred miles at 
lea, and did not know how he was going to get back 
to land. But presently I noticed he found it not in- 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



158 



consistent with his dignity to alight on the rigging 
under friendly cover of the tops'l, where I saw hia 
feathers rudely ruffled by the wind, till darkness set 
in. If tlie sailors did not disturb him during the 
night, he certainly needed all his fortitude in the 
morning to put a cheerful face on his situation. 

The third day, when we were perhaps off Nova 
Scotia or Newfoundland, the American pipit or tit- 
lark, from the far North, a brown bird about the size 
of a sparrow, dropped upon the deck of the ship, so 
nearly exhausted that one of the sailors was on the 
point of covering it with his hat. It stayed about 
the vessel nearly all day, flitting from point to point, 
or hopping along a few feet in front of the prom- 
enaders, and prying into every crack and crevice 
for food. Time after time I saw it start off with a 
reassuring chirp, as if determined to seek the land 
but before it had got many rods from the ship its 
heart would seem to fail it, and ifter circling about 
for a few moments, back it would come, more dis- 
couraged than ever. 

These little waifs from the shore ! I gazed upon 
them with a strange, sad interest. They were friends 
in distress, but the sea-birds, skimming along indiffer- 
ent to us, or darting in and out among those watery 
hills, I seemed to look upon as my natural enemies. 
They were the nurslings and favorites of the sea, and 
[ had no sympathy with them. 

No doubt the number of our land birds tliat act 
ually perish in the sea during their autumn migra 



154 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



tion, being carried far out of their course by the 
prevailiDg westerly winds of this season, is very 
great. Occasionally one makes the passage to Great 
Britain, by following the ships and finding them at 
convenient distances along the route, and I have been 
told that over fifty different species of our more com- 
mon birds, such as robins, starlings, grossbeaks, 
thrushes, etc., have been found in Ireland, having, of 
course, crossed in this way. What numbers of these 
little navigators of the air are misled and wrecked 
durino: those dark and stormv nio:hts, on the liojht- 
houses alone that line the Atlantic Coast ? Is it 
Celia Thaxter who tells of having picked up her 
apron full of sparrows, warblers, flycatchers, etc.. at 
the foot of the light-house, on the Isles of Shoals, 
one mornino: after a storm, the orrouud beinor still 
strewn with birds of all kinds that had dashed them 
selves against the beacon, bewildered and fascma:e<i 
by its tremendous light ? 

If a land bird perishes at sea, a sea bird is eqaaliy 
cast away upon the land, and I have known the 8«D0ty 
tern, with its almost omnipotent wing, to faU down 
utterly famished and exhausted, two hundred miles 
from salt water. 

But my interest in these things did not last beyond 
the third day. About tnis time we entered what the 
Bailors call the " devil's hole," and a very respectably 
B.'zed hole it is, extendins: from the Banks of New- 
So indland to Ireland, and in aD seasons and weathers 
It seems to be well stirred up. 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



155 



Amidst the tossing and rolling, the groaning oi 
penitent travelers, and the laboi-ing of the vessel as 
she climbed tliose dark unstable mountains, my mind 
reverted feebly to Huxley's statement, that the bot- 
tom of this sea, for over a tliousand miles, presents 
to the eye of science a vast chalk plain, over which 
one might drive as over a floor, and I tried to solace 
myself by dwelling upon the spectacle of a solitary 
traveler whipping up his steed across it. The imag- 
inary rattle of his wagon was like the sound of 
lutes and harps, and I w^ould rather have clung to his 
axletree than been rocked in the best berth in the 
ship. 

LAND. 

On the tenth day, about four o'clock in the after- 
noon, we sighted Ireland. The ship came up from 
behind the horizon where for so many days she had 
been buffeting with the winds and the waves, but had 
never lost the clew, bearing straight as an arrow for 
the mark. I think if she had been aimed at a fair 
Bized artillery target, she w^ould have crossed the 
ocean and struck the bull's eye. 

In Ireland, instead of an emerald isle rising out of 
the sea, I beheld a succession of cold, purplish mount- 
ains, stretching along the northeastern horizon, but I 
am bound to say that no tints of bloom or verdure 
were ever half so welcome to me as were those dark 
heather-clad ranges. It is a feeling which a man car 
nave but once in his life, when he first sets eyes upon 
^ foreign land, and in my case, to this feeling wai 



156 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



idded the delightful thought that the " devil's hole ^ 
would soon be cleared and my long fast over. 

Presently, after the darkness had set in, signal 
rockets were let off from the stern of the vessel, writ- 
ing their burning messages upon the night, and when 
fcnswering rockets rose slowly up far ahead, I suppose 
we all felt that the voyage was essentially done, and 
no doubt a message Hashed back under the ocean, 
that the Scotia had arrived. 

The sight of the land had been such medicine to 
me that I could now hold up my head and walk 
about, and so went down for the first time and took 
a look at the engines — those twin monsters that had 
not stopped once, or apparently varied their stroke at 
all since leaving Sandy Hook ; I felt like patting their 
enormous cranks and shafts with my hand ; then at 
the coal bunks, vast cavernous recesses in the belly of 
the ship, like the chambers of the original mine in 
the mountains, and saw the men and firemen at work 
in a sort of purgatory of heat and dust. When it is 
remembered that one of these ocean steamers con- 
sumes about one hundred tons of coal per day, it is 
iiasy to imagine what a burden the coal for a voyage 
alone must be, and one is not at all disposed to laugh 
at Dr. Lardner, who proved so convincingly that no 
steamship could ever cross the ocean because it could 
\xOt carry coal enough to enable it to make the pas- 
lage. 

On the morrow, a calm lustrous day, we steamed at 
^ur leisure up the Channel and across the Irish Sea, 



MELLOW EiSULA.ND. 



157 



the coast of Wales and her groups of lofty mount- 
ains in fuli view nearly all day. The mountaina 
were in profile like the Catskills viewed from the 
Hudson below, only it was evident there were no 
trees or shrubbery upon them, and their summits, on 
this last day of September, were white with the snow. 

ASHORE. 

The first day or half day ashore is, of course, the 
most novel and exciting ; but who, as Mr. Higginson 
Bays, can describe his sensations and emotions this 
first half day. It is a page of travel that has not yet 
been written. ' Paradoxical as it may seem, one gen- 
erally comes out of pickle much fresher than he went 
in. The sea has given him an enormous appetite for 
the land Every one of his senses is like a hungry 
wolf clamorous to be fed. For my part T had sud- 
denly emerged from a condition bordering on that of 
the hibernating animals — a condition in which I had 
neither ate, nor slept, nor thought, nor moved, when 
I could help it, into not only a full, but a keen and 
joyous possession of my health and faculties. It was 
almost a metamorphosis. I was no longer the clod I 
had been, but a bird exulting in the earth and air, 
and in the liberty of motion. Then to remember it 
was a new earth and a new sky that I was behold- 
ing, that it was England, the old mother at last, no 
longer a faith or a fable, but an actual fact there be- 
fore my eyes and under my feet — why should I no< 
%xult ? Go to ! I will be indulged. These treea 



158 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



thosB fields, that bird darting along the hedge-row^ 
those men and boys picking blackberries in October, 
those English flowers by the road-side (stop the car- 
riage while I leap out and pluck them), the homely, 
domestic looks of things, those houses, those queer 
vehicles, those thick-coated horses, those big-footed, 
coarsely-clad, clear-skinned men and women, this 
massive, homely, compact architecture — let me have 
a good look, for this is my first hour in England, and 
I am drunk with the joy of seeing ! This house-fly 
even, let me inspect it,^ and that swallow skimming 
along so familiarly ; is he the same I saw trying to 
cling to the sails of the vessel the third day out ? or 
is the swallow the swallow the world over ? This 
grass I certainly have seen before, and this red and 
white clover, but this daisy and dandelion are not the 
same, and I have come three thousand miles to see 
the mullein cultivated in a garden, and christened the 
velvet plant. 

As we sped through the land, the heart of England, 
toward London, I thought my eyes would never get 
their All of the landscape, and that I would lose them 
out of my head by tlieir eagerness to catch every ob- 
ject as we rushed along ! How they reveled, how 
they followed the birds and the game, how they 
glanced ahead on the track — that mar ^^elous track ! 
— or shot off over the fields and downs, finding their 
lelight in the streams, the roads, the bridges, the 

1 The English house-fly actually seemed coarse md more hairj 
tian errs 



MKLLOW ENGLAND. 



159 



splendid breeds of cattle and sheep in the fields, the 
Buperb husbandry, tlie rich mellow soil, the drainage, 
the hedges — in tlie inconspicuousness of any given 
feature and tlie mellow tone and homely sincerity of 
all ; now dwelling fondly upon the groups of neatly 
modeled stacks, then upon the field occupations, the 
gathering of turnips and cabbages, or the digging of 
potatoes, — how I longed to turn up the historic soil 
into which had passed the sweat and virtue of so 
many generations, with my own spade, — then upon 
the quaint, old, thatched houses, or the cluster of 
tiled roofs, then catching at a church spire across a 
meadow (and it is all meadow) or at the remains of 
tower or wall overrun with ivy. 

Here, something almost human looks out at you 
from the landscape ; nature here has been so long 
under the dominion of man, has been taken up and 
laid down by him so many times, worked over and 
over with his hands, fed and fattened by his toil and 
industry, and on the whole, has proved herself so will- 
ing and tractable, that she has taken on something of 
his image, and seems to radiate his presence. She is 
completely domesticated, and no doubt loves the tit- 
ivation of the harrow and plow. The fields look half 
conscious, and if ever the cattle have " great and tran- 
quil thoughts," as Emerson suggests they do, it must 
be when lying upon these lawns and meadows. J 
noticed that the trees, the oaks and elms, looked like 
fruit-trees, or as if they had felt the humanizing in- 
Ouences of so many generations of men, and were be 



160 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



taking themselves from the woods to^ the orchard 
The game is more than half tame, and one coald 
easily understand that it had a keeper. 

But the look of those fields and parks went straight 
to my heart. It is not merely that they were so 
gmooth and cultivated, but that they were so benign 
and maternal, so redolent of cattle and sheep and of 
patient, homely, farm lalx)r. One gets only here and 
there a glimpse of such in this country. I see occa- 
sionally about our farms a patch of an acre or half 
acre upon which has settled this atmosphere of ripe 
and loving husbandry ; a choice bit of meadow about 
the bam or orchard, or near the house, which has 
had some special fattening, perhaps been the site of 
some former garden, or bam, or homestead, or which 
has had the wash of some building, where the feet of 
children have played for generations, and the fiocks 
and herds been fed in winter, and where they love to 
lie and ruminate at night — a piece of sward thick and 
smooth, and full of warmth and nutriment, where the 
grass is greenest and freshest in spring, and the hay 
finest and thickest in summer. 

This is the character of the whole of England that 
I gaw. I had been told I should see a garden, but I 
did not know before to what extent the earth could 
become a living repository of the virtues of so many 
generations of gardeners. The tendency to run to 
weeds and wild growtns seems to have been utterly 
eradicated from the soil, and if anything were to 
ipring up spontaneously, 1 think it would be cabbag? 
*nd turnips, or grass and grain. 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



161 



And yet, to American eyes, the country seems 
quite uninhabited, there are so few dwellings, and so 
few people. Such a landscape at home would be dot- 
ted all over with thrifty farm-houses, each with its 
group of painted out-buildings, and along every road 
and highway would be seen the well-to-do turnouts 
of the independent freeholders. But in England the 
dwellings of the poor people, the farmers, are so 
humble and inconspicuous and are really so far apart, 
and the halls and the country-seats of the aristocracy 
are so hidden in the midst of vast estates, that the 
landscape seems almost deserted, and it is not till you 
Bee the towns and great cities that you can under- 
stand where so vast a population keeps it,self. 

Another thing that would be quite sure to strike 
my eye on this my first ride across British soil and 
on all subsequent rides, was the enormous number of 
birds and fowls of various kinds that swarmed in the 
air or covered the ground. It was truly amazing. 
It seemed as if the feathered life of a whole continent 
must have been concentrated on this island. Indeed, 
I doubt if a sweeping together of all the birds of the 
United States into any two of the largest States, 
would people the earth and air more fully. There 
appeared to be a plover, a crow, a rook, a blackbird, 
and a sparrow, to every square yard of ground. They 
know the value of birds in Britain — that they are 
the friends, not the enemies, of the farmer. It must 
bo the paradise of crows and rooks. It did me good 
\o see them so much home about the fields and 
11 



162 



A^' OCTOBER ABBOAD. 



even in the towns. I was glad also to see that the 
British crow was not a stranger to me, and that he 
differed from his brother on the American side of the 
Atlantic only in being less alert and cautious, having 
less nse for these qualities. 

'Now and then the train would start up some more 
tempting game. A brace or two of partridges or a 
covey of qnaUs would setde down in the stubble, or a 
cock pheasant drop head and tail and slide into the 
copse. Babbits also would scamper back from the 
borders of the fields into the thickets or peep slyly 
out, making my sportsman's fingers tingle. 

I have no doubt I should be a notorious poacher in 
England. How could an American see so much 
game and not wish to exterminate it entirely as he 
does at home ? But sporting is an expensive luxury 
here. In the first place a man pays a heavy tax on 
his gun, nearly or quite half its value ; then he has 
lo have a license to hunt, for which he pays smartly, 
then permission from the owner of the land upon 
which he wishes to hunt, so that the game is hedged 
about by a triple safeguard. 

An American, also, will be at once struck with the 
look of greater substantiality and completeness in 
everything he sees here. No temporizing, no make- 
shifts, no evidence of hurry, or failure, or contract 
work ; no wood and little paint, but plenty of iron 
%nd brick and stone. This people have taken plenty 
of time, and have built broad and deep, and placed 
tf»e cap-stone on. All this I had been told, but it 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



16& 



pleased me so in the seeing that I must tell it again. 
It is worth a voyage across the Atlantic to see the 
bridges alone. I believe I had seen little other than 
wooden bridges before, and in England I saw not 
one such, but everywhere solid arches of masonry, 
that w^ere refreshing and reassuring to behold. Even 
the lanes and by-ways about the farm, 1 noticed, 
crossed the little creeks with a span upon which 
an elephant would not hesitate to tread, or artillery 
trains to pass. There is no form so pleasing to look 
upon as the arch, or that affords so much food and 
suggestion to the mind. It seems to stimulate the vo- 
lition, the will-230wer, and for my part, I cannot look 
upon a noble span without a feeling of envy, for I 
know the hearts of heroes are thus keyed and forti- 
fied. The arch is the symbol of strength and activity, 
and of rectitude. 

In Europe I took a new lease of this feeling, this 
partiality for the span, and had daily opportunities to 
indulge and confirm it. In London I had immense 
satisfaction in observing the bridges there and in 
walking over them, firm as the geological strata, and 
as enduring. London Bridge, Waterloo Bridge 
Blackfriars, etc., clearing the river in a few gigantic 
leaps, like things of life and motion — - to pass over 
one of these bridges or to sail under it awakens the 
•imotion of the sublime. I think the moral value of 
fuch a bridge as the Waterloo must be inestimable. 
It seems to me the British Empire itself is stronger 
hv such a bridge, and that all public and private vir* 



IG4 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



tues are stronger. In Paris, too, those superb monu- 
ments over the Seine — I think they alone ought to 
inspire the citizens with a love of permanence, and 
help hold them to stricter notions of law and depend- 
ence. No doubt kings and tyrants know the value of 
these things, and as yet they certainly have the mo- 
nopoly of them. 

LONDON. 

I am too good a countryman to feel much at home 
in cities, and usually value them only as conveniences, 
but for London I conceived quite an affection ; per- 
haps because it is so much like a natural formation 
itself, and strikes less loudly, or perhaps sharply, 
upon the senses than our great cities do. It is a for- 
est of brick and stone of the most stupendous dimen- 
sions, and one traverses it in the same adventurous 
kind of way that he does woods and mountains. The 
maze and tangle of streets is something fearful, and 
any generalization of them a step not to be hastily 
taken. My experience heretofore had been that 
cities generally were fractions that could be greatly 
reduced, but London I found I could not simplify, 
and every morning for weeks, when I came out of 
my hotel, it was a question whether my course lay in 
this direction or in squarely the opposite. It has no 
unit of structure, but is a vast aggregation of streets 
and houses, or in fact of towns and cities, which have 
to be mastered in detail. I tried the third or fourth 
fay to get a bird's-eye view from the top of St. Paul's 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



165 



but saw through the rifts in tlie smoke only a wastn 
— literally a waste of red tiles and chimney pots. 
The confusion and desolation were complete. 

But I finally mastered the city, in a measure, by 
the aid of a shilling map which I carried with me 
wherever I went, and upon which when I was lost I 
would hunt myself up, thus making in the end a very 
suggestive and entertaining map. Indeed every inch 
of this piece of colored paper is alive to me. If I did 
not make the map itself, I at least verified it, which 
is nearly as good, and the verification, on street cor- 
ner by day, and under lamp or by shop window at 
night, was often a matter of so much concern that I 
doubt if the original surveyor himself put more heart 
into certain parts of his work than I did in the proof 
of them. 

London has less metropolitan splendor than New 
York, and less of the full-blown pride of the shopman. 
Its stores are not nearly so big, and it has no sign- 
boards that contain over one thousand feet of lumber, 
neither did 1 see any names painted on the gable ends 
of the buildings that the man in the moon could read 
without his opera-glass. I went out one day to look 
up one of the great publishing houses, and passed it 
and repassed it several times trying to find the sign. 
Finally, having made sure of the building, I found the 
.ame of the firm cut into the door jamb. 

London seems to have been built and peopled by 
wuntrymen, who have preserved all the rural remi- 
EiBceuces possible. All its great streets or a^euues 



166 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



are called roads, as King's Road, City Road, Edge- 
ware Road, Tottenham Court Road, etc., with innu- 
merabio lesser roads. Then there are lanes and walks, 
and such rural names among the streets as Long 
Acre, Snowhill, Poultry, Bush-lane, Hill-road, Houns- 
ditch, etc., and not one grand street or imperial 
avenue. 

My visit fell at a most favorable juncture as to 
weather, there being but few rainy days and but little 
fog. I had imagined that they had barely enough fair 
weather in London, at any season, to keep alive the 
tradition of sunshine and of blue sky, but the October 
days I spent there were not so very far behind what 
we have at home at this season. London often puts 
on a night-cap of smoke and fog, which it pulls down 
over its ears pretty close at times, and the sun has a 
habit of lying abed very late in the morning, which 
all the people imitate ; but I remember some very 
pleasant weather there, and some bright moonlight 
nights. 

I saw but one full-blown characteristic London fog. 
I was in the National Gallery one day, trying to make 
up my mind about Turner, when this chimney-pot 
meteor came down. It was like a great yellow dog 
taking possession of the world. The light faded from 
the room, the j^ictures ran together in confused masses 
of shadow on the walls, and in the street only a dim 
yellowish twilight prevailed, thro^igh which faintly 
twinkled the lights in the shop windows. Vehicles 
same slowly out of the dirty obscurity on one side an(' 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



167 



plunged into it on the other. Waterloo Bridge gave 
one or two leaps and disai)peared, and the Nelson 
Column in Trafalgar Square was obliterated for half 
its length. Travel was impeded, boats stop[M3d on the 
river, trains stood still on the track and for an hour 
and a half London lay buried beneath this sickening 
eruption. I say eruption, because a London fog is 
only a London smoke, tempered by a moist atmos- 
phere. It is called "fog" by courtesy, but lampblack 
is its chief ingredient. It is not wet like our fogs, but 
quite dry, and makes the eyes smart and the nose 
tingle. Whenever the sun can be seen through it, 
his face is red and dirty; seen through a hond fide 
fog his face is clean and white. English coal, — or 
" coals " as they say here, — in burning gives out an 
enormous quantity of thick, yellowish smoke, which 
is at no time absorbed or dissipated as it would be in 
our hard, dry atmosphere, and which at certain times 
is not absorbed at all, but flills down swollen and 
augmented by the prevailing moisture. The atmos- 
phere of the whole island is more or less impregnated 
with smoke, even on the fairest days, and it becomes 
more and more dense as you approach the great 
towns. Yet this compound of sm^it, fog, and common 
air is an elixir of youth ; and this is one of the sur- 
prises of London, to see amid so much soot and dingi- 
ness such fresh, blooming complexions and in general 
such a fine physical tone and fuli-oloodedness among 
the people — such as one has come to associate only 
mth the best air and the purest, wholesomest country 



1G8 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



influences. What the secret of it may be, 1 am at a 
loss to know, unless it is that the moist atmosphere 
does not dry up the blood as our air does and that 
the carbon and creosote have some rare antiseptic 
and preservative qualities, as doubtless they have, that 
are efficacious in the human physiology. It is no 
doubt triie, also, that the people do not tan in thia 
climate, as in ours, and that the delicate flesh tints 
show more on that account. 

I speak thus of these things with reference to our 
standards at home, because I found that these stand- 
ards were ever present in my mind, and that I was 
unconsciously applying them to whatever I. saw, and 
wherever I went, and often, as I shall have occasion 
to show, to their discredit. 

Climate is a great matter, and uo doubt many of 
tlie differences between the English stock at home 
and its offshoot in our country, are traceable to this 
source. Our climate is more head}^ and less sto- 
machic than the Ei^lish ; sharj^ens the wit, but dries 
up the fluids and viscera ; favors an irregular, nervous 
energy, but exhausts the animal spirits. It is, per- 
haps, on this account that I have felt since my return 
how much easier it is to be a dyspeptic here than in 
Great Britain. One's appetite is keener and more 
ravenous, and the temptation to bolt one's food 
greater. The American is not so hearty an eater as 
the Englishman, but the forces of his body are con 
stantly leaving his stomach in the lurch, and running 
oii' iulo bis hands and feet and head. His eyes are 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



16& 



bigger than his belly, but an Englishmau's belly is 
ft deal larger than his eyes, and the number of plum 
puddings and amount of Welsh rare-bit he devours 
annually would send the best of us to his grave in 
half that time. We have not enough constitutional 
inertia and stolidity ; our climate gives us no rest, 
but goads us day and night, and the consequent wear 
and tear of life is no doubt greater in this country 
than in any other on the globe. We are playing the 
game more rapidly, and I fear less thoroughly and 
sincerely than the mother country. 

The more uniform good health of English women 
is thought to be a matter of exercise in the open air, 
as walking, riding, etc., but the prime reason is 
mainly a climatic one, uniform habits of exercise being 
more easily kept up in that climate than in this and 
being less exhaustive, one day with another. You 
can walk there every day in the year without much 
discomfort, and the stimulus is about the same. Here 
it is too hot in summer and too cold in winter, or 
else it keys you up too tight one day and unstrings 
you the next ; all fire and motion in the morning 
and all listlessness and ennui in the afternoon ; a 
spur one hour and a sedative the next. 

A watch will not keep as steady time here as in 
Britain and the human clock-work is more liable to 
get out of repair for the same reason. Our women, 
especially, break down prematurely, and the decay of 
maternity in this country is no doubt greater than in 
fcuy of the oldest civilized communities. One reason, 



170 



AN OCTOBEPw ABROAD. 



doubtless, is that our womeu are the greatest slaves 
of fashion in the whole world, and in following the 
whims of that famous courtesan have the most fickle 
and destructive climate to contend with. 

English women all have good-sized feet, and Eng- 
lishmen, too, and wear large, comfortable shoes. This 
was a noticeable feature at once ; coarse, loose-fitting 
clothes of both sexes, and large boots and shoes with 
low heels. They evidently knew the use of their 
feet, and had none of the French, or American, or 
Chinese fastidiousness about this part of their anat- 
omy. I notice that when a family begins to run out, 
it turns out its toes, drops off at the heel, shortens 
its jaw, and dotes on small feet and hands. 

Another promoter of health in England is woolen 
clothes, which are worn the year round, the summer 
driving people into no such extremities as here. And 
the good, honest woolen stuffs of one kind and an- 
other that fill the shops, attest the need and the taste 
that prevails. They had a garment when I was in 
London called the Ulster overcoat — a coarse, shaggy, 
bungling coat, with a skirt nearly reaching to the 
feet, very ugly, tried by the fashion plates, but very 
comfortable, and quite the fashion. This very sen- 
Bible garment has since become well known in Amer- 
ica. 

The Americans in London were put out with the 
tailors, and could rarely get suited, on account of the 
oose cutting and the want of " style." But " style ' 
i the hiatus that threatens to swallow us all one o 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



171 



these days. About the only monstropHy I saw in 
the British man's dress was the stove-pipe hat, which 
everybody wears. At first I feared it might be a 
police regulation or a requirement of the British 
Constitution, for 1 seemed to be about the only man 
in the kingdom with a soft hat on, and I had noticed 
that before leaving the steamer every man brought 
out from its hiding-place one of these polished brain 
squeezers. Even the boys wear them — youths of 
nine and ten years with little stove-pipe hats on ; 
and at Eton School I saw black swarms of them — 
even the boys in the field were playing foot-ball in 
stove-pipe hats. 

What we call beauty in woman is so much a mat- 
ter of youth and health that the average of female 
beauty in London is, I believe, higher than in this 
country. English women are comely and good-look- 
ing. It is an extremely fresh and pleasant face that 
you see everywhere — softer, less clearly and sharply 
cut than the typical female face in this country — less 
spirituelle, less perfect in form, but stronger and 
sweeter. There is more blood, and heart, and sub- 
stance back of it. The American race of the pres- 
ent generation is doubtless the most shapely, both in 
face and figure, that has yet appeared. American 
children are far less crude, and lumpy, and awkward 
booking than European children. One generation in 
this country suffices vastly io improve the looks of 
Khe offspring of the Irish or German or Norwegian 
emigrant. There is surely something in our climate 



172 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



or conditions that speedily refines and sharpens, and, 
shall I add, hardens ? the human features. The face 
loses something, but it comes into shape ; and of such 
?«)eautj as is the product of this tendency we can un- 
doubtedly show more, especially in our women, than 
the parent stock, in Europe ; while American school- 
girls, I believe, have the most bewitching beauty in 
th3 world. 

The English plainness of speech is observable 
even in the signs or notices along the streets. In- 
stead of " Lodging," " Lodging," as with us, one sees 
" Beds," Beds," which has a very homely sound ; 
and in place of " gentlemen's " this, that, or the other, 
about public places, the word "men's'* is used. 

I suppose if it was not for the bond of a written 
language and perpetual intercourse, the two nations 
would not be able to understand each other in the 
course of a hundred years, the inflection and accent- 
uation is so different. I recently hea^d an English 
lady say, referring to the American speech, that she 
could hardly believe her own language could bo 
spoken so strangely. 

ARCHITECTURE. 

One sees right away that the English are a home 
people, a domestic people. And he does not need to 
go into their houses or homes to find this out. Tt is 
m the air and in the general aspect of things. Every 
where you see the virtue and quality that we ascribe 
to home-made articles. It seems as if things hac 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



173 



Deen made by hand, and with care and affection, as 
they have been. The land of caste and kings, there 
is yet less glitter and display than in this country, 
less publicity, and, of course, less rivalry and emula- 
tion also, for which we pay very dearly. You have 
got to where the word honieJy preserves its true sig- 
nification, and is no longer a term of disparagement, 
but expressive of a cardinal virtue. 

I liked the English habit of naming their houses ; 
it shows the importance they attach to their homes. 
All about the suburbs of London and in the outlying 
villages I noticed nearly every house and cottage had 
some appropriate designation, as Terrace House, 
Oaktree House, Ivy Cottage, or some Yilla, etc., 
usually cut into the stone gate post, and this name is 
put on the address of the letters. How much better 
to be known by your name than by your number ! 
I believe the same custom prevails in the country, 
and is common to the middle classes as well as to the 
aristocracy. It is a good feature. A house or a 
farm with an appropriate name, which everybody rec- 
ognizes, must have an added value and importance. 

Modern English houses are less showy than ours, 
and have more weight and permanence — no flat roofs 
and no painted outside shutters. Indeed, that pride 
of American country people, and that abomination 
in the landscape, a white house with green blinds, I 
did not see a specimen of in England. They do 
Hot aim to make their houses conspicuous, but the 
eontrary. They make a large, yellowish brick that 



174 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



lias a pleasing effect in the wall. Then a very short 
space of time in that climate suffices to take off the 
effect of newness, and give a mellow, sober hue to 
the building. Another advantage of the climate is 
that it permits outside plastering. Thus almost any 
Btone may be imitated, and the work endure for ages ; 
while our sudden changes, and extremes of heat and 
cold, of dampness and dryness, will cause the best 
work of this kind to peel off in a few years. 

Then this people have better taste in building than 
we have, perhaps because they have the noblest sam 
pies and specimens of architecture constantly before 
them — those old feudal castles and royal residences, 
for instance. I was astonished to see how homely 
and good they looked, how little they challenged ad- 
miration, and how much they emulate rocks and trees. 
They were surely built in a simpler and more poetic 
age than this. It was like meeting some plain, natu- 
ral nobleman after contact with one of the bedizened, 
artificial sort. The Tower of London, for instance, is 
as pleasing to the eye, has the same fitness and har- 
mony, as a hut in the woods ; and I should think an 
artist might have the same pleasure in copying it 
into his picture as he would in copying a pioneer's 
log cabin. So with Windsor Castle, which has the 
beauty of a ledge of rocks, and crowns the hill like a 
vast natural formation. The warm, simple interior 
too, of these castles and palaces, the honest oak with- 
« out paint or varnish, the rich wood carvings, the ripe 
buman tone and atmosphere, how it all contrasts, fo? 



MELLOW KKGLAND. 



175 



Instance, with the showy, gilded, cast-iron interior of 
our commercial or political palaces, where every 
thing that smacks of life or nature is studiously ex- 
cluded under the necessity of making the building 
fire-proof. 

I was not less pleased with the higher ornamental 
architecture, — the old churches and cathedrals, — 
which appealed to me in a way architecture had never 
before done. In fact, I found that I had never seen 
architecture before — a building with genius and 
power in it, and that one could look at with the 
eye of the imagination. Not mechanics merely, but 
poets had wrought and planned here, and the granite 
was tender with human qualities. The plants and 
weeds growing in the niches and hollows of the walls , 
the rooks and martins and jackdaws inhabiting the 
towers and breeding about the eaves, are but types of 
the feelings and emotions of the human heart that flit 
and hover over these old piles, and find affectionate 
lodgment in them. 

Time, of course, has done a great deal for this old 
architecture. Nature has taken it lovingly to her- 
self, has set her seal upon it, and adopted it into her 
system. Just the foil which beauty, — especially the 
crystallic beauty of architecture, — needs, has been 
given by this hazy, mellowing atmosphere. As the 
grace and suggestiveness of all objects are enhanced 
by a fall of snow, — forest, fence, hive, shed, knoll, 
rock, tree, all being laid under the same white en- 
chantment, — so time has wrought in softening and 



176 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



toning down this old religious architecture, and bring 
ing it into harmony with nature. 

Oar climate has a much keener edge, both of frost 
and lire, and touches nothing so gently or creatively 
yet time would, no doubt, do much for our architect- 
ure, if we would give it a chance — for that apotheosis 
of prose, the National Capitol at Washington, upon 
which, I notice, a returned traveler bases our claim 
to be considered " ahead " of the Old World, even in 
architecture ; but the reigning gods interfere, and 
each spring or full give the building a clean shirt, in 
the shape of a coat of white paint. In like manner, 
other public buildings never become acclimated, but 
are annually scoured with soap and sand, the national 
passion for the briglitness of newness interfering to 
defeat any benison which the gods might be disposed 
to pronounce upon them. Spotlessness, I know, is 
not a characteristic of our politics, though it is said 
that whitewashing is, which may account for this 
ceaseless paint-pot renovation of our public buildings. 
In a world lit only by the moon our Capitol would 
be a paragon of beauty, and the spring whitewash- 
ing could also be endured ; but under our blazing sun 
imd merciless sky it parches the vision, and makes it 
turn with a feeling of relief to rocks and trees, or to 
Bome weather-stained, dilapidated shed or hovel. 

How winningly and picturesquely in comparison 
ihe old architecture of London addresses itself to the 
Hve — St Paul's Cathedral, for instance, with its vast 
blotches and stains, as if it had been dipped in som« 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



177 



black Lethe of oblivion, and then left to be restored 
by the rains and the elements. This black Lethe is 
the London smoke and fog, which has left a dark de 
posit over all the building, except the upper and more 
exposed parts, where the original silvery whiteness of 
the stone shows through, the effect of the whole thus 
being like one of those graphic Rembrandt photo- 
graphs or carbons, the prominences in a strong light, 
and the rest in deepest shadow. I was never tired of 
looking at this noble building, an,d of going out of my 
way to walk around it, but I am at a loss to know 
whether the pleasure I had in it arose from my love 
of nature or from a susceptibility to art for which I 
had never given myself credit. Perhaps from both, 
for I seemed to behold Art turning toward and rev- 
erently acknowledging Nature — indeed, in a manner 
already become Nature. 

I believe the critics of such things find plenty of 
fault with St. Paul's ; and even I could see that its 
bigness was a little prosy, that it suggested the his- 
toric rather than the poetic muse, etc. ; yet, for all 
that, I could never look at it without a profound 
emotion. Viewed coolly and critically it might 
seem like a vast specimen of Episcopalianism in ar- 
chitecture. Miltonic in its grandeur and proportions, 
and jMil tonic in its prosiness and mongrel classicism 
also, yet its power and effectiveness are unmistaka- 
ble. The beholder has no vantage ground from 
which to view it, or take in its total effect, on account 
uf its being so closely beset by such a mob of shops 
12 



178 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



aud buildings ; yet the glimpses he does get here and 
there through the opening made by some street, 
when passing in its yiciuity, are yery striking and 
suggestive ; the thin yeil of smoke, which is here as 
constant and uniform as the atmosphere itself, wrap- 
ping it about with the enchantment of time and dis- 
tance. 

The interior I found even more impressive than 
the exterior, perhaps because I was unprepared for 
it, I had become used to imposing exteriors at home, 
and did not reflect that in a structure like this I 
should see an interior also, and that here alone the 
soul of the building would be fully revealed. It was 
Miltonic in the best sense ; it was like the mightiest 
organ music put into form. Such depths, such solemn 
yastncss, such gulfs and abysses of architectural space, 
the rich, mellow light, the haze outside becoming a 
mysterious, hallowing presence within, quite mas- 
tered me, and I sat down upon a seat, feeling my first 
genuine cathedral intoxication. As it was really an 
intoxication, a sense of majesty and power quite 
overwhelming in my then uncloyed condition, I speak 
of it the more freely. My companions rushed about 
as if each one had had a search-warmnt in his pocket ; 
but I was content to uncover my head and drop Jito 
a seat, and busy my mind with some simple object 
near at hand, while the sublimity that soared about 
inc csloIc Into my soul, and possessed it. My sensa- 
tion was like that imparted by suddenly reachmg a 
pear altitude ; there was a sort of relaxation of th« 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



179 



muscles, followed by a sense of physical weakness, 
and after half an hour or so T felt compelled to go 
out into the open air, and leave till another day the 
final survey of the building. Next day I came back, 
but there can be only one first time, and I could not 
again surprise myself with the same feeling of won- 
der and intoxication. But St. Paul's will bear many 
visits. T came again and again, and never grew tired 
of it. Crossing its threshold was entering another 
world, where the silence and solitude were so pro- 
found and overpowering, that the noise of the streets 
outside, or of the stream of visitors, or of the work- 
men engaged on the statuary, made no impression. 
They were all belittled, lost, like the humming of 
flies. Even the afternoon services, the chanting, and 
the tremendous organ, were no interruption, and left 
me just as much alone as ever. They only served to 
set off the silence, to fathom its depth. 

The dome of St. PauFs is the original of our dome 
at Washington ; but externally I think ours is the 
more graceful of the two, though the effect inside is 
tame and flat in comparison. This is owing partly to 
the lesser size and height, and partly to our hard, 
transparent atmosphere, which lends no charm or il- 
lusion, but mainly to the stupid, unimaginative plan 
of it. Our dome shuts down like an inverted iron 
cot ; there is no vista, no outlook, no relation, and 
Lence no proportion. You open a door and are in a 
circular pen, and can look in only one direction — 
<ip. If the iron pot were slashed through here and 



180 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



there, or if it rested on a row of tall coIucqds, or 
piers, and was shown to be a legitimate part of the 
building, it would not a^Dpear the exhausted receiver 
it does now. 

The dome of St. Paul's is the culmination of the 
whole interior of the building. Rising over the cen- 
tral area, it seems to gather up the power and maj- 
esty of the nave, the aisles, the transepts, the choir, 
and give them expression and expansion in its lofty 
firmament. 

Then those colossal piers, forty feet broad, some of 
them, and nearly t>ne hundred feet high ; they easily 
eclipsed what I had recently seen in a mine, and 
which I at the time, imagined shamed all the architect- 
ure of the world — where the mountain was upheld 
over a vast space by massive piers left by the miners, 
with a ceiling unrolled over your head, and appar- 
ently descending upon you, that looked like a petrified 
thundercloud. 

The view from the upper gallery, or top of the 
dome looking down inside, is most impressive. The 
public are not admitted to this gallery, for fear, the 
keeper told me, it would become the scene of suicides ; 
people unable to withstand the terrible fascination 
would leap into the yawning gulf. But with the priv- 
ilege usually accorded to Americans, I stepped down 
into the narrow circle, and leaning over the balustrade, 
coolly looked the horrible temptation in the face. 

On the whole, St. Paul's is so vast and imposing 
that one wonders what occasion or what ceremony cas 



MKLLOW ENGLAND. 



181 



rise to the importance of not being utterly dwarfed 
within its walls. The annual gathering of the char- 
ity children, ten or twelve thousand in uunaber, must 
make a ripple or two upon its solitude, or an exhibi- 
tion like the thanksgiving of the Queen, when sixteen 
or eighteen thousand persons were assembled beneath 
its roof. But one cannot forget that it is, for the 
most part, a great toy — a mammoth shell, whose 
bigness bears no proportion to the living (if, indeed, 
it is living), indw^elling necessity. It is a tenement 
BO large that the tenant looks cold and forlorn, and 
in danger of being lost within it. 

No such objection can be made to Westminster 
Abbey, which is a mellow, picturesque old place, the 
interior arrangement and architecture of which affects 
one like some ancient, dilapidated forest. Even the 
sunlight streaming through the dim windows, and 
falling athwart the misty air, was like the sunlight of 
a long gone age. The very atmosphere was pensive, 
and filled the tall spaces like a memory and a dream. 
I sat down and listened to the choral service and to 
the organ, wdiich blended perfectly with the spirit and 
sentiment of the place. 

ON THE SOUTH DOWNS. 

One of my best days in England was spent amid 
die singing of skylarks on the South Down Hills, 
aear an old town at the mouth of t'le Little Ouse, 
where I paused on my way to France. The prc»s- 
D3Ct of hearing one or two of the classical birds ol 



182 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



the Old World had not been the least of the attrac- 
tions of my visit, though I knew the chances were 
against me so late in the season, and I have to thank 
my good genius for guiding me to the right place at 
the right time. To get out of London was delight 
enough, and then to find myself quite unexpectedly 
on these soft rolling hills, of a mild October day, 
in full sight of the sea, with the larks pouring out 
their gladness overhead, was to me good fortune in- 
deed. 

The South Downs form a very remarkable feature 
of this part of England, and are totally unlike any 
other landscape I ever saw. I believe it is Huxley 
who applies to them the epithet of muttony, which 
they certainly deserve, for they are like the backs of 
immense sheep, smooth, and round, and flit — so 
smooth indeed, that the eye can hardly find a place 
to take hold of, not a tree, or bush, or fence, or house, 
or rock, or stone, or other object, for miles and miles, 
save here and there a group of straw-capped stacks, 
or a fiock of sheep crawling slowly over them, at- 
tended by a shepherd and dog, and the only lines 
visible, those which bound the squares where dilFereut 
I rops had been gathered. The soil was rich and mel- 
low, like a gai-den — hills of chalk with a pellicle of 
black loam. 

These hills stretch a great distance along the coast, 
\nd are cut squarely oti' by the sea, presenting on this 
lide a ch'iiu of white chalk clitfs suggesting the old 
L aliu name of this land, Albion. 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



183 



Before I had got fifty yards from the station I 
began to hear the kirks, and being unprepared for 
them I was a little puzzled at first, but was not long 
in discovering what luck I was in. The song disap- 
pointed me at first, being less sweet and melodious 
than I had expected to hear, indeed I thought it a 
little sharp and harsh., — a little stubbly, — but in 
other respects, in strength and gladness and continu- 
ity, it was wonderful. And the more I heard it the 
better T liked it, until I would gladly have given any 
of my songsters at home for a bird that could shower 
down such notes, even in autumn. Up, up, went the 
bird, describing a large easy spiral till he attained an 
altitude of three or four hundred feet, when, spread 
out against the sky for a space of ten or fifteen min- 
utes, or more, he poured out his delight, filling all the 
vault with sound. The song is of the sparrow kind, 
and, in its best parts, perpetually suggested the notes 
of our vesper sparrow ; but the wonder of it is its copi- 
ousness and sustained strength. There is no theme, 
no beginning, middle, or end, like most of our best 
bird songs, but a perfect swarm of notes pouring out 
like bees from a hive and resembling each other 
nearly as closely, and only ceasing as the bird nears 
the earth again. We have many more melodious 
songsters ; the bobolink in the meadows, for instance; 
ilie vesper sparrow in the pastures, the purple finch 
in the groves, the winter wren, or any of the thrushes 
In the woods, or the wood-wagtail, whose air song is 
of a similar character to that of the skylark's, and is 



184 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



CTcu more rapid and nnging, and is delivered in 
nearly the same manner ; but our birds all stop when 
the skylark has only just begun. Away he goes on 
quivering wing, inflatiog his throat fuller and fuller, 
mounting and mounting, and turning to all points of 
the compass as if to embrace the whole landscape in 
his song, the notes still raining upon you as distinct 
as ever, after you have left him far behind. You feel 
that you need be in no hurry to observe tlie song lest 
the bird finish, you walk along, your mind reverts 
to other things, you examine the grass and weeds, or 
search for a curious stone, still there goes the bird ; 
you sit down and study the landscape, or send your 
thoughts out toward France or Spain, or across the 
sea to your own land, and yet when you get them 
back, there is that song above you almost as unceas- 
ing as the light of a star. This strain indeed suggests 
some rare pyrotechnic display, musical sounds being 
substituted for the many-colored sparks and lights. 
And yet I will add what perhaps the best readers do 
not need to be told, that neither the lark song, nor any 
other bird song in the open air and under the sky. 
as noticeable a feature as my description of it might 
imply, or as the poets would have us believe ; and 
that most persons, not especially interested in birds 
or their notes, and intent upon the general beauty of 
the landscape, would probably pass it by unremarked, 
.1 suspect that it is a little higher flight than the 
facts will bear out when the writers make the birdi 
go out of sight into the sky. I could easily folJo^r 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



185 



them OD this occasion, though if I took my eye away 
for a moment it was very difficult to get it back again. 
I liad to search for them as the astronomer searches 
for a star. It may be that in the spring, when the 
atmosphere is less clear, and the heart of the bird full 
of a more mad and reckless love, that the climax is 
not reached until the eye loses sight of the singer. 

Several attempts have been made to introduce the 
lark into this country, but for some reason or other 
the experiment has never succeeded* The birds have 
been liberated in Virginia and on Long Island, but do 
not seem to have ever been heard of afterwards. 1 
Bee no reason why they should not thrive anywhere 
along our Atlantic sea-board, and I think the question 
of introducing them worthy of more thorough and 
serious attention than has yet been given it, for the 
lark is really an institution, and as he sings long after 
the other birds are silent, — as if he had perpetual 
spring in his heart, — he would be a great acquisition 
to our fields and meadows. It may be that he can- 
not stand the extremes of our climate, though the 
English sparrow thrives well enough. The Smith- 
sonian Institute has received specimens of the sky- 
lark from Alaska where, no doubt, they find a climate 
more like the English. 

They have another prominent singer in England, 
►lamely the robin, — the original robin redbreast, — 
slight, quick, active bird with an orange front and 
%n olive back, and a bright musical warble that I 
*aiight by every garden, lane, and hedge-row. It 



186 



AX OCTOBKR ABROAD. 



suggests our bluebird, and has similar habits and 
manners^ though it is a much better musician. 

Tiie P^uropean bird that corresponds to our robin 
id the bkickbu'd of which Tennyson sings : — 

** O Blackbird, sing me something well ; 
While all the neighbors shoot thee round 
I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground 
Where thou may'st warble, eat, and dweL." 

It quite startled me to see such a resemblance, to 
Bee, indeed, a black robin. In size, form, flight, man- 
ners, note, call, there is hardly an appreciable differ- 
ence. The bird starts up with the same flirt of the 
wings, and calls out in the same jocund, salutatory 
way, as he hastens off. The nest of coarse mortar 
in the fork of a tree, or in an out-building or in the 
side of a wall, is also the same. 

The bird I wished most to hear, namely, the night- 
ingale, had already departed on its southern journey. 
I saw one in the Zoological Gardens in London, and 
took a good look at him. He struck me as bearing 
a close resemblance to our hermii-thrush, with some- 
thinof in his manners that suowsted the water-thrush 
also. Carlyle said he first recognized its song from 
the description of it in " Wilhelm Meister," and that 
it was a sudden burst," which is like the song of our 
water-thrush. 

I have little doubt our songsters excel in melody 
while the European birds excel in profuseness and 
solubility. I heard many bright, animated notes 
ind many harsh ones, but few that were melodious 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



187 



riiis fact did not harmonize with the general drift of 
the rest of my observations, for one of the first things 
that strikes an American in Europe is the mellow- 
ness and rich tone of things. The European h 
softer voiced than the American and mikler mannered, 
but the bird voices seem an exception to tliis rule. 

TARKS. 

While in London I had much pleasure in strolling 
through the great parks, Hyde Park, Regent's Park, 
St. James Park, Victoria Park, etc., and in making 
Sunday excursions to Richmond Park or Hampden 
Court Parks or the great parks at Windsor Castle. 
The magnitude of all these parks was something 1 
was entirely unprepared for, and their freedom also ; 
one could roam where he pleased. Not once did I 
Bee a sign-board, " Keep off the grass," or go here or 
go there. There was grass enough, and one could 
launch out in every direction without fear of tres- 
passing on forbidden ground. One gets used, at 
least J do, to such petty parks at home, and walks 
amid them so cautiously and circumspectly, every 
shrub and tree and grass plat saying " hands off," 
that it is a new sensation to enter a city pleasure 
ground like Hyde Park — avast natural landscape, 
nearly two miles long and a mile wide, with broad, 
rolling plains, with herds of sheep grazing, and for- 
ests and lakes, and all as free as the air. We have 
some quite sizable parks and reservations in Wash- 
ington, and the citizen has the right of way ovei 



188 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



their tortuous gravel walks, but Le puts his foot upon 
the grass at the risk of being insolently hailed by the 
local police. I have even been called to order for re- 
clining upon a seat under a tree in the Smithsonian 
grounds. I must sit upright as in church. But in 
Hyde Park or Regent's Park I could not only walk 
upon the grass, but lie upon it, or roll upon it, or play 
" one catch all " with children, boys, dogs, or sheep 
upon it ; and I took my revenge for once for being 
80 long confined to gravel walks, and gave the grass 
an opportunity to grow under my foot whenever I en- 
tered one of these parks. 

This free and easy rural character of the London 
parks is quite in keeping with the tone and atmos- 
phere of the great metropolis itself, which in so many 
respects has a country homeliness and sincerity, and 
shows the essentially bucolic taste of the people ; con- 
trasting in this respect with the parks and gardens 
of Paris, which show as unmistakably the citizen 
and the taste for art and the beauty of design and 
ornamentation. Hyde Park seems to me the perfec- 
tion of a city pleasure ground of this kind, because it 
is so free and so thoroughly a piece of the country, 
and so exempt from any petty artistic displF-^s. 

In walking over Richmond Park I found i had 
quite a day's work before me, as it was like traversing 
a township ; while the great park at Windsor Castle, 
being upwards of fifty miles around, might well make 
the boldest pedestrian hesitate. My first excursioi? 
ras *o Hampden Court, an old royal residence, wher« 



MELLOW ENGLAND. 



189 



I spent a delicious October day wandering throagh 
Busby Park and looking. with covetous, though ad- 
miring eyes upon the vast herds of deer that dotted 
the plains or gave way before me as I entered the 
woods. There seemed literally to be many thou- 
sands of these beautiful animals in this park, and the 
loud, bankering sounds of the bucks, as they pursued 
or circled around the does, was a new sound to my 
ears. The rabbits and pheasants also were objects of 
the liveliest interest to me, and I found that after all 
a good shot at them with the eye, especially when I 
could credit myself with alertness or stealthiness, was 
satisfaction enough. 

I thought it worth}^ of note that though these great 
parks in and about London were so free and appar- 
ently without any police regulations whatever, yet I 
never saw prowling about them any of those vicious, 
ruffianly looking characters that generally infest the 
neighborhood of our great cities, especially of a Sun- 
day. There were troops of boys, but they were as- 
tonishingly quiet and innoxious, very unlike American 
boys, white or black, a band of whom making excur- 
sions into the country are always a band of outlaws. 
Ruffianism with us is no doubt much more brazer, and 
pronounced, not merely because the law is lax, bai 
because such is the genius of the people. 



190 



AN OCTOBER ABROAH 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS. 

England is a mellow country, and the Englihh 
people are a mellow people. They have hung on 
the tree of nations a long time, and will, no doubt, 
hang as much longer ; for windfalls, I reckon, are not 
the order in this island. AVe are pitched several de- 
grees higher in this country. By contrast, things here 
are loud, sharp, and garish. Our geography is loud; 
the manners of the people are loud ; our climate is 
loud, very loud, so dry and sharp, and full of violent 
changes and contrasts ; and our goings-out and cora- 
ings-in as a nation are anything but silent. Do we 
not occasionally give the door an extra slam, just for 
effect ? 

In England, everything is on a lower key, slower, 
steadier, gentler. Life is, no doubt, as full, or fuller, 
in its material forms and measures, but less violent 
and aggressive. The buffers the English have bo 
tween tiieir cars to break the shock, are typical of 
much one sees there. 

All sounds are softer in England ; the surface of 
things is less hard. The eye of day and the face of 
P^ature are less bright. Everything has a mellow 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS. 



191 



subdued cast. There is no abruptness in the land- 
scape, no sharp and violent contrasts, no brilliant and 
striking tints in the foliage. A soft, pale yellow is 
all one sees in the way of tints along the borders of 
the autumn woods. English apples (very small and 
inferior, by the way) are not so highly colored as 
ours. The blackberries, just ripening in October, are 
less pungent and acid ; and the garden vegetables, 
such as cabbage, celery, cauliflower, beet, and other 
root crops, are less rank and fibrous ; and I am very 
sure that the meats also are tenderer and sweeter. 
There can be no doubt about the superiority of mut- 
ton ; and the tender and succulent grass, and the moist 
and agreeable climate, must tell upon the beef also. 

English coal is all soft coal, and the stone is sofc 
stone. The foundations of the hills are chalk in- 
stead of granite. The stone with which most of the 
old churches and cathedrals are built would not en- 
dure in our climate half a century ; but in Britain the 
tooth of Time is much blunter, and the hunger of the 
old man less ravenous, and the ancient architecture 
stands half a millennium, or until it is slowly woru 
away by the gentle attrition of the wind and rain. 

At Chester, the old Roman wall that surrounds the 
town, built in the first century and repaired in the 
ninth, is still standing without a break or a swerve, 
though in some places the outer fa^e of the wall ia 
worn through. The cathedral, and St. John's church 
In the same town, present to the beholder outlines as 
lagged and broken as rock«? and cliffs ; and yet it ia 



192 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



only chip by chip, or grain by grain, that ruin ap 
preaches. The timber also lasts an incredibly long 
time. Beneath one of the arched ways, in the Ches- 
ter wall above referred to, I saw timbers that must 
have been in place five or six hundred years. The 
beams in the old houses, also fully exposed to the 
weather, seem incapable of decay ; those dating from 
Sliakespeare's time being apparently as firm as ever. 

I noticed that the characteristic aspect of the clouds 
in England was different from ours — soft, fleecy, 
vapory, indistinguishable — never the firm, compact, 
sharply-defined, deeply-dyed masses and fragments, 
so common in our own sky. It rains easily but 
slowly. The average rain-fall of London is less than 
that of New York, and yet it doubtless rains ten days 
in the former to one in the latter. Storms accompa- 
nied with thunder are rare ; while the crashing, 
wrenching, explosive thunder-gusts so common with 
us, deluging the earth and convulsing the heavens, 
are seldom known. 

In keeping with this elemental control and moder- 
ation, I found the character and manners of the peo- 
ple gentler and sweeter than I had been led to 
believe they were. No loudness, brazenness, imper- 
tinence; no oaths, no swaggering, no leering at 
women, no irreverence, no flippancy, no bullying, no 
insolence of porters, or clerks, or conductors, no im- 
portunity of boot-blacks or newsboys, no omnivorous- 
□ess of hackmen — at least, comparatively none — all 
t>f which an American is apt to notice and I hop« 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS. 



193 



appreciate. In London, the boot-black salutes you 
with a respectful bow, and touches his cap, and would 
no more think of pursuing you or answering your 
refusal than he would of jumping into the Thames. 
The same is true of the newsboys. If they were to 
scream and bellow in London, as they do in New 
York or Washington, they would be suppressed by 
the police, as they ought to be. The vender of 
papers stands at the corner of the street, with his 
goods in his arms, and a large placard spread out at 
his feet, giving in big letters the principal news-head- 
ings. 

Street-cries of all kinds are less noticeable, less 
aggressive, than in this country, and the manners of 
the shopmen make you feel you are conferring a ben- 
efit instead of receiving one. Even their locomotives 
are less noisy than ours, having a shrill, infantile 
whistle that contrasts strongly with the loud demoniac 
yell that makes a residence near a railway or depot, 
in this country, so unbearable. The trains themselves 
move with wonderful smoothness and celerity, mak- 
ing a mere fraction of the racket made by our flying 
palaces as they go swaying and jolting over our hasty, 
ill-ballasted roads. 

It is characteristic of the English prudence and 
plain dealing, that they put so little on the cars and 
BO much on the road, while the reverse process is 
equally characteristic of American enterprise. Our 
railway system, no doubt, has certain advantages or 
^ther conveniences over the Englibh, but, for ray part 
13 



194 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



I had rather ride smoothly, swiftly, and safely in a 
luggage-van, than be jerked and jolted to destruction 
in the velvet and veneering of our palace cars. Uphol- 
ster the road first, and let us ride on bare boards, until 
a cushion can be afforded ; not till after the bridges are 
of granite and iron, and the rails of steel, do we want 
this more than aristocratic splendor and luxury of 
palace and drawing-room cars. To me there is no 
more marked sign of the essential vulgarity of the 
national manners than these princely cars and beg- 
garly, clap-trap roads. It is like a man wearing a 
ruffled and jeweled shirt-front, but too poor to afford 
a shirt itself. 

I have said the English are a sweet and mellow 
people. There is, indeed, a charm about these an- 
cestral races that goes to the heart. And herein was 
one of the profoundest surprises of my visit, namely^ 
that, in coming from the New World to the Old, from 
a people the most recently out of the woods of any, to 
one of the ripest and venerablest of the European na- 
tionalities, I should find a race more simple, youthful, 
and less sophisticated than the one I had left behind 
me. Yet this was my impression. We have lost 
immensely in some things, and what we have gained 
is not yet so obvious or so definable. We have lost 
in reverence, in homeliness, in heart and conscience — 
in virtue, using the word in its proper sense. Tc 
some the difference which I note may appear a differ* 
enoe in favor of the greater 'cuteness, wideawakenes* 
•nd enterprise of the American, but is simply a differ 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS. 



195 



ence expressive of our greater forwardness. We 
ure a forward people, and the god we worship is 
Smartness. In one of the worst tendencies of the age, 
namely, an impudent, superficial, journalistic intel- 
lectuality and glibness, America, in her polite and 
literary circles, no doubt, leads all other nations. 
English books and newspapers show more homely 
veracity, more singleness of purpose, in short, more 
character than ours. The great charm of such a man 
as Darwin, for instance, is his simple manliness and 
transparent good faith, and the absence in him of tlmt 
finical, self-complacent smartness which is the bane 
of our literature. 

The poet Clough thought the New England man 
more simple than the man of Old England. Haw- 
thorne, on the other hand, seemed reluctant to admit 
that the English were a "franker and simpler people, 
from peer to peasant," than we are ; and that they 
had not yet wandered so far from that " healthful 
and primitive simplicity in which man was created" 
as have their descendants in America. My own im- 
pression accords with Hawthorne's. We are a more 
alert and curious people, but not so simple, — not so 
easily angered, nor so easily amused. We have par- 
taken more largely of the fruit of the forbidden tree. 
The English have more of the stay-to-home virtues, 
which, on the other hard, they no doubt pay pretty 
well for by their more insular tendencies. 

The youths and maidens seemed moi^e simple, with 
iheir softer and less intellectual faces. When I re- 



196 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



turned from Paris the only person in the second clasi 
compartments of the car with me, for a long distance, 
was an English youth eighteen or twenty years old, 
returning home to London after an absence of nearly 
a year, which he had spent as waiter in a Parisian 
hotel. He was born in London and had spent nearly 
his whole life there, where his mother, a widow, then 
lived. He talked very freely with me, and told me 
his troubles, and plans, and hopes, as if we had long 
known each other. What especially struck me in the 
youth was a kind of sweetness and innocence — per- 
haps what some would call "greenness'' — that at 
home I had associated only with country boys and 
not even with them latterly. The smartness and 
knowingness and a certain hardness or keenness of 
our city youths, — there was no trace of it at all in 
this young Cockney. But he liked American travel- 
ers better than those from his own country. They 
were more friendly and communicative — were not 
BO afraid to speak to " a fellow," and at the hotel 
were more easily pleased. 

The American is certainly not the grumbler the 
Englishman is ; he is more cosmopolitan and concil- 
iatory. The Englishman will not adapt himself to 
his surroundings ; he is not the least bit an imitative 
animal ; he will bo nothing but an Englishman, and 
is out of place — an anomaly — in any country but 
his own. To understand him, you must see him at 
home in the British island, where he grew, where he 
belongs, where he has expressed himself and justified 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS. 



197 



himself, and his interior, unconscious characteristics 
are revealed. There he is quite a different creature 
from what he is abroad. There he is " sweet," but 
he sours the moment he steps off the island. In this 
country he is too generally arrogant, fault-finding, and 
supercilious. The very traits of loudness, sharpness, 
and unleavenedness which I complain of in our na- 
tional manners, he very frequently exemplifies in an 
exaggerated form. 

The Scotch or German element no doubt fuses 
and mixes with ours much more readily than the 
purely British. 

The traveler feels the past in England as of course 
he cannot feel it here ; and, along with impressions 
of the present, one gets the flavor and influence of 
earlier, simpler times, which, no doubt, is a potent 
charm, and one source of the " rose-color " which 
some readers Imve found in my sketches, as the ab- 
sence of it is one cause of the raw, acrid, unlovely 
character of much there is in this country. If the 
English are the old wine, we are the new. We are 
not yet thoroughly leavened as a people, nor have 
we more than begun to transmute and humanize our 
surroundings ; and, as the digestive and assimila- 
tive powers of the American are clearly less than 
Khose of the Englishman, to say nothing of our 
harsher, more violent climate, I have no idea that 
ours can ever becoma the mellow land tnat Brit- 
lin is. 

As for the charge of brutality that is often brought 



198 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



against the English, and which is so successfully de- 
picted by Dickens and Thackery, there is, doubtless, 
good ground for it, thougli I actually saw very little 
of it during five-weeks' residence in London, and I 
poked about into all the dens and corners I could 
find, and perambulated the streets at nearly all hours 
of the night and day. Yet I am persuaded there is 
a kind of brutality among the lower orders in Eng- 
land that does not exist in the same measure in 
this country — an ignorant animal coarseness, an in- 
sensibility, which gives rise to wife-beating and kin- 
dred offenses. But the brutality of ignorance and 
stolidity is not the worst form of the evil. It is 
good material to make something better of. It is 
an excess and not a perversion. It is not man fallen^ 
but man undeveloped. Beware, rather, that refined, 
subsidized brutality ; that thin, depleted, moral con- 
sciousness ; or that contemptuous, cankerous, euphe- 
mistic brutality, of which, I believe, we can show 
vastly more samples than Great Britain. Indeed, I 
believe, for the most part, that the brutality of the 
English people is only the excess and plethora Ot 
that healthful, muscular robustness and full-blooded- 
ness for which the nation has always been famous, and 
which it should jnize beyond almost anything else. 
But for our brutality, our recklessness of life and 
property, the bi'azen ruffianism in our great cities, 
the hellish greed and robbery and plunder in high 
places, I should have to look a long time to find s< 
plausible an excuse. 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS, 199 

[But I notice with pleasure that English travelers 
jire beginning to find more to admire than to con- 
demn in this country, and that they accredit us with 
Bome virtues they do not find at home in the same 
measure. They are charmed with the independence, 
the self-respect, the good-nature and the obliging 
dispositions, show^n by the mass of our people ; while 
American travelers seem to be more and more ready 
to acknowledge the charm and the substantial quah 
ities of the mother country. -It is a good omen. 
One principal source of the pleasure which each 
takes in the other is no doubt to be found in the nov- 
elty of the impressions. It is like a change of cook 
ery. The flavor of the dish is fresh and uncloying 
to each. The English probably tire of their own snob- 
bishness and flunkeyism, and we of our own smart- 
ness and puppyism. After the American has got 
done bragging about his independence, and his free 
and equal " prerogatives, he begins to see how these 
things run into impertinence and forwardness ; and 
the Englishman, in visiting us, escapes from his social 
bonds and prejudices, to see for a moment how ab 
surd they all are.] 

A London crowd I thought the most normal and 
unsophisticated I had ever seen, with the least ad- 
mixture of rowdyism and ruffianism. No doubt it is 
there, but this scum is not upon the surface, as with 
us. I went about very freely in the hundred and one 
places of amusement where *lie average woi'king 
classes assemble, with their wiv^s an^^ daughters and 



200 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



iweethearts, and smoke villainous cigais, and drink 
ale and stout. , There was to me something notably 
fresh and canny about them, as if they had only yes- 
terday ceased to be shepherds and shepherdesses. 
They certainly were less developed, in certain direo 
tions, or shall I say depraved, than similar crowds in 
our great cities. They are easily pleased, and laugh 
at the simple and childlike, but there is little that 
hints of an impure taste, or of abnormal appetites. I 
often smiled at the tameness and simplicity of the 
amusements, but my sense of fitness, or proportion, 
or decency, was never once outraged. They always 
stop short of a certain point — the point where wit 
degenerates into mockery, and liberty into license : 
nature is never put to shame, and will commonly 
bear much more. Especially to the American sense 
did their humorous and comic strokes, their negro- 
minstrelsy, and attempts at Yankee comedy, seem in 
in a minor key. There was not enough irreverence, 
and slang, and coarse ribaldry, in the whole evening's 
entertainment, to have seasoned one line of some of 
cur most popular comic poetry. But the music, and 
the gymnastic, acrobatic, and other feats, were of a 
very high order. And I will say here that the char- 
acteristic flavor of the humor and fun-making of the 
:tverage English people, as it impressed my sense, ia 
what one gets in Sterne — very human and stomachic, 
^ind entirely free from the contempt and supercilious- 
ness of most current writers. I did not get one whif^ 
f)f Dickens anywhere. No doubt, it is there in some 



ENGLISH CHABACTERISTICS. 



201 



form or Cther, but it is not patent, or even apprecia- 
ble, to the sense of such an observer as I am. 

I was not less pleased by the simple good-will and 
bonhomie that pervaded the crowd. There is in all 
these gatherings an indiscriminate mingling of tiie 
sexes, a mingUng without jar or noise or rudeness of 
any kind, and marked by a mutual respect on all sides 
that is novel and refreshing. Indeed, so uniform is 
the courtesy, and so human and considerate the inter- 
est, that I was often at a loss to 'discriminate the wdfe 
or the sister from the mistress or the acquaintance of 
the hour, and had many times to check my American 
curiosity, and cold, criticising stare. For it was curi- 
ous to see young men and women from the lowes^t 
social strata meet and mingle in a public hall with- 
out lewdness or badinage, but even with gentleness 
and consideration. The truth is, however, that the 
class of women known as victims of the social evil 
do not sink within many degrees as low in Europe 
as they do in this country, either in their own opinion 
or in that of the public ; and there can be but little 
doubt that gatherings of the kind referred to, if per- 
mitted in our great cities, would be tenfold moro 
»KJandalous and disgraceful than they are in London 
iY Paris. There is something so reckless and des- 
^»erate in the career of man or woman in this coun- 
try, when they begin to go down, that the only feel- 
ing they too often excite is one of loathsomeness and 
disgust. The lowest depth must be reached, and it 
*8 reached quickly. But, in London, the same char- 



202 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



Rcters seem to keep a sweet side from corruption to 
the last, and you will see good manners everywhere. 

We boast of our deference to women, but, if the 
Old AVorld made her a tool, we are fast making her 
a toy ; and the latter is the more hopeless condition. 
But amono^ the better classes in Enorland I am con- 
vinced that woman is regarded more as a sister and 
an equal than in this country, and is less subject to 
insult and to leering, brutal comment there than here. 
We are her slave or her tyrant ; so seldom her 
brother and friend. I thought it a significant fact 
that I found no place of amusement set apart for the 
men ; where one sex went the other went ; what was 
sauce for the gander was sauce for the goose ; and the 
spirit that prevailed was soft and human accordingly. 
The hotels had no "ladies' entrance," but all passed 
in and out the same door, and met and mingled com- 
monly in the same room, and the i)lace was as much 
for one as for the other. It was no more a mascu- 
line monopoly than it was a feminine. Indeed, in 
the country towns and villages the character of the 
inns is unmistakably given by woman ; hence the 
Bweet, domestic atmosphere that pervades and fills 
hem is balm to the spirit. Even the larger hotels of 
Liverpool and London have a private, cosy home 
character that is most delightful. On entering them, 
histead of finding yourself in a sort of public thorough- 
fare or political caucus, amid crowds of men talking 
Bud smoking, and spitting, with stalls on either side 
^here cigars and tobacco, and books and papers ar* 



ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS. 



203 



sold, you perceive you are in something like a larger 
hall of a private house, with perhaps a parlor ami 
toflfee-room on one side, and the office, and smoking- 
room, and stairway, on the other. You may leave 
your coat and hat on the rack in the hall, and stand 
your umbrella there also, with full assurance that you 
will find them there when you want them, if it be the 
next morning or the next week. Instead of that 
petty tyrant the hotel-clerk, a young woman sits in 
the office with her sewing or other needlework, and 
quietly receives you. She gives you your number 
on a card, rings for a chambermaid to show you to 
your room, and directs your luggage to be sent up ; 
and there is something in the look of things, and the 
way they are done, that goes to the right spot at 
once. 

At the hotel in London where I stopped, the 
daughters of the landlord, three fresh, comely young 
women, did the duties of the office ; and their pres- 
ence, so quiet and domestic, gave the prevailing hue 
and tone to the whole house. I wonder how long a 
young woman could preserve her self-respect and 
Bensibility in such a position *n New York or Wash- 
ington ? 

The English regard us as a wonderfully patient 
people, and there can be no doubt but we put up with 
abuses unknown elsewhere. If we have no big 
tyrant, we have ten thousand little ones, who tread 
ipon our toes at every turn. The tyranny of cor 
Derations and of public servants of one kind and ai> 



204 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



other, as the ticket-man, the railroad-conductor, or 
even of the country stage-driver, seem to be features 
peculiar to American democracy. In England, the 
traveler is never snubbed, or made to feel that it is 
by somebody's sufferance that he is allowed aboard 
or to pass on his way. 

If you get into an omnibus or a railroad or tram- 
way carriage in London, you are sure of a seat. Not 
another person can get aboard after the seats are all 
full. Or, if you enter a public hall, you know you 
will not be required to stand up unless you pay the 
standing-up price. There is everywhere that system, 
and order, and fair dealing, which all men love. The 
science of living has been reduced to a fine point. You 
pay a sixpence and get a sixpence worth of whatever 
you buy. There are all grades and prices, and the 
robbery and extortion so current at home appear to 
be unknown. 

I am not contending for the superiority of every- 
thing English, but would not disguise from myself or 
my readers the fact of the greater humanity and con- 
sideration that prevail in the mother country. Things 
here are yet in the green, but I trust there is no good 
reason to doubt that our fruit will mellow and ripen 
11 time like the rest. 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 



206 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 

In coming over to France, I noticed that the 
chalk-hills, which were stopped so abruptly by tho sea 
on the British side of the Channel, began again on 
the French side, only they had lost their smooth, pas- 
coral character, and were more broken and rocky, and 
that they continued all the way to Paris, walling in 
the Seine, and giving the prevailing tone and hue to 
the country, — scrape away the green and brown 
epidermis of the hills anywhere, and out shine their 
white frame-work, — and that Paris itself was built 
of stone evidently quarried from this formation — a 
light, cream-colored stone, so soft that rifle-bullets 
bury themselves in it nearly their own depth, thus 
pitting some of the more exposed fronts during the 
recent strife in a very noticeable manner, and which, 
In building, is put up in the rough, all the carving, 
sculpturing, and finishing being done after the blocks 
we in position in the waJl. 

Disregarding the counsel of friends, I braved the 
Channel at one of its wider points, taking the vixen 
by the waist instead of by the neck, and found her as 
placid as a lake, as I did also on my return a week 
later. 



206 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



It was a bright October morning as we steamed 
into the little harbor at Dieppe, and the first scene 
that met my eye wms, I suppose, a characteristic one 
— four or five old men and women towing a vessel 
into a dock. They bent beneath the rope that passed 
from shoulder to shoulder, and tugged away dog- 
gedly at it, the women apparently more than able to 
do their part. There is no equalizer of the sexes 
like poverty and misery, and then it very often hap- 
pens that the gray mare proves the better horse. 
Throughout the agricultural regions, as we passed 
along, the men apparently all wore petticoats; at 
least, the petticoats were the most active and prom- 
inent in the field occupations. Their wearers w^ere 
digging potatoes, pulling beets, following the harrow 
(in one instance a thorn-bush drawn by a cow), and 
stirring the wet, new-mown grass. I believe the 
pantaloons were doing the mowing. But I looked in 
vain for any Maud Miillers in the meadows, and have 
concluded that these can only be found in New Eng- 
land hay-fields ! And herein is one of the first sur- 
prises that awaits one on visiting the Old World 
countries, the absence of graceful, girlish figures, and 
bright girlish faces, among the peasantry or rural 
population. In France I certainly expected to see 
female beauty everywhere, but did not get one gleam 
all that sunny day till I got to Paris. Is it a plant 
that only flourishes in cities on this side of the 
Atlantic, or do all the pretty girls, as soon as thej 
are grown, pack their trunks, and leave for the ga^ 
Tietropolis ? 



A GLIMPSE OF FKANCE. 



207 



At Dieppe I first saw the wooden shoe, and heard 
its dry, senseless clatter upon the pavement. How 
suggestive of the cramped and inflexible conditions 
with which human nature has borne so long in these 
lands ! 

A small paved square near the wharf was the scene 
of an early market, and atForded my first glimpse of 
the neatness and good taste that characterize nearly 
everything in France. Twenty or thirty peasant- 
women, coarse and masculine, but very tidy, with 
their snow-white caps and short petticoats, and per- 
haps half as many men, were chattering and chaffer- 
ing over little heaps of fresh country produce. The 
onions and potatoes and cauliflowers, etc., were pret- 
tily arranged on the clean pavement, or on white linen 
cloths, and the scene was altogether animated and 
agreeable. 

La helle France is the woman's country clearly, and 
it seems a mistake or an anomaly that woman is not 
at the top, and leading in all departments, compelling 
the other sex to play second fiddle, as she so fre- 
quently has done for a brief time in isolated cases in 
the past ; not that the man is effeminate, but that the 
woman seems so nearly his match and equal, and 
even so often proves his superior. In no other na- 
tion, during times of popular excitement and insur- 
rection or revolution, do women emerge so couspicu- 
uusly, often in the front r.inks, the most furious and 
Bngovernable of any. I think even a female conscrip- 
tion might be advisable in the present condition of 



208 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



France, if I may judge .of her soldiers from tlie speci- 
mens I saw. Small, spiritless, inferior-looking men 
all of them. They were like Number Three mack- 
erel or the last run of shad, as- doubtless they were — 
the last pickings and resiftings of the population. 

I don't know how far it may be a national custom, 
but I observed that the women of the humbler classes, 
in meeting or parting with friends at the stations, 
saluted each other on both cheeks, never upon the 
mouth, as our dear creatures do, and I commended 
their good taste, though I certainly approve the 
American custom too. 

Among the male population I was struck with the 
frequent recurrence of the Louis Napoleon type of 
face. Has this man," I said, succeeded in impress- 
ing himself even upon the physiognomy of the peo- 
ple ? Has he taken such a hold of their imagina- 
tions that they have grown to look like him ? " The 
guard that took our train down to Paris might easily 
play the double to the ex-emperor ; and many times 
in Paris and among different classes I saw the same 
countenance. 

Coming from England, the traveling seems very 
slow in this i)art of France, taking eight or nine 
hours to go from Dieppe to Paris, with an hour's 
delay at Rouen. The valley of the Seine, which the 
road follows or skirts more than half the way, is 
very winding, with immense flats or plains shut in by 
a wall of steep, uniform hills, and, in the progress of 
die journey, is from time to time laid open to th« 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 



209 



traveler in a way that is full of novelty and surprise. 
The day was bright and lovely, and I found my eyes 
running riot the same as they had done during my 
first ride on British soil. The contrast between the 
two countries is quite marked, France in this region 
being much more broken and picturesque, with some 
waste or sterile land, a thing I did not see at all in 
England. Had I awoke from a long sleep just before 
reachinof Paris, I should have iiuessed I was ridincj 
through Maryland, and would soon see the dome of 
the Capitol at Washington rising above the trees. 
So much wild and bushy, or barren and half-cultivated 
land, almost under the walls of the French capital, 
was a surprise. 

Then there are few or none of those immense 
home-parks which one sees in England, the land being 
mostly held by a great number of small proprietors, 
and cnltivated in strips or long, narrow parallelo- 
grams, making the landscape look like many-colored 
patchwork. Everywhere along the Seine, stretching 
over the flats, or tilted up against the sides of the 
hills, in some places seeming almost to stand on end, 
were these acre or half-acre rectangular farms, with- 
out any dividing lines or fences, and of a great vari- 
ety of shades and colors, according to the crop and 
the tillage. 

I was glad to see my old friend, the beech-tree, al!l 
along the route. His bole wore the same gray anci 
patched appearance it does at home, and, no doubt, 
riioreau would have fcund his instep even fairer, foi 
U 



210 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



the beech on this side of the Atlantic is a more fluent 
and graceful tree than the American species, resem- 
bling, in its branchings and general form, our elm, 
tliougli never developing such an immense green 
dome as our elm when standing alone, and I saw no 
European tree that does. The European elm is not 
unlike our beech in form and outline. 

Going from London to Paris is, in some respects, 
like getting out of the chimney on to the house-top 
— the latter city is, by contrast, so light and airy, 
and so American in its roominess. I had come to 
Paris for my dessert after my feast of London joints, 
and I suspect I was a little dainty in that most dainty 
of cities. In fact, I had become quite sated with 
sight-seeing, and the prospect of having to go on and 
" do " the rest of Europe after the usual manner 
of tourists, and as my companions did, would have 
been quite appalling. Said companions steered off 
like a pack of fox hounds in full blast. The game 
they were in quest of led them a wild chase, up the 
Rhine, olF through Germany and Italy, taking a turn 
back through Switzerland, giving them no rest and 
apparently eluding them at last. I had felt obliged 
to cut loose from them at the outset, my capacity to 
digest kingdoms and empires at short notice being far 
below that of the average of my countrymen. My 
mterest and delight had been too intense at the out- 
set ; I had partaken too heartily of the first courses 
and now, where other travelers begin to warm to th« 
inbject, and to have the keenest relish, I began t6 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE, 



211 



msh the whole thing well through with. So that 
Paris ^vas no paradise to one American at least. 
Yet, the mere change of air and sky, and the escape 
from that sooty, all-pervasive, chimney-flue smell of 
London, was so sudden and complete, that the first 
hour of Paris was like a refreshing bath, and gave 
rise to a satisfaction in which every pore of the skin 
participated. My room at the hotel was a gem of 
neatness and order, and the bed a marvel of art, com- 
fort, and ease, three feet deep at least. 

Then the uniform imperial grace and eclat of the 
city w^as a new experience. Here was the city of 
cities, the capital of taste and fashion, the pride and 
flower of a great race and a great history, the city of 
kings and emperors, and of a people which, after all, 
loves kings and emperors, and will not long, I fear, 
be happy without them — a gregarious, urbane peo- 
ple, a people of genius and destiny, whose God is Art 
and whose devil is Communism. London has long 
ago outgrown itself, has spread, and multiplied, and 
accumulated, without a corresponding inward expan- 
sion and unification ; but, in Paris, they have pulled 
down and built larger, and the spirit of centralization 
has had full play. Hence, the French capital is su- 
perb, but soon grows monotonous. See one street 
and boulevard, and }ou have seen it all. It has the 
unity and consecutiveness of a thing deliberately 
planned and built to order, from beginning to end 
Us stone is all from one quar'-y, and its designs all 
Ihe work of one architect. London has infinite va 



212 AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 

riety, and quaintness, and picturesqiieuess, and is ol 
all possible shades of dinginess and weather-stains. 
It shows its age, shows tlie work of innumerable gen- 
erations, and is more an aggregation, a conglomeration 
than Paris is. Paris shows the citizen, and is mod- 
ern and democratic in its uniformity. On the whole, 
I liked London best, because I am so much of a coun- 
tryman, I suppose, and affect so little the metropoli- 
tan spirit. In London there are a few grand things 
to be seen, and the pulse of the great city itself is 
like the throb of the ocean ; but in Paris, owing 
either to my jaded senses, or some other cause, I saw 
nothing that was grand, but enough that was beauti- 
ful and pleasing. The more pretentious and elabo- 
rate specimens of architecture, like the palace of the 
Tuileries, or the Palais Royal, are truly superb, but 
they as truly do not touch that deeper chord whose 
awakening we call the emotion of the sublime. 

But the fitness and good taste everywhere dis- 
played in the French capital may well offset any con- 
siderations of this kind, and cannot fail to be refresh- 
ing to a traveler of any other land ; in the dress and 
manners of the people, in the shops, and bazaars, and 
show-windows, in the markets, the equipages, the fur- 
niture, the hotels. It is entirely a new sensation to 
an American to look into a Parisian theatre, and see 
the acting and hear the music. The chances are 
that, for the first time he sees the interior of a theatre 
that does not have a luird, business-like, matter-of-fact 
Air. The auditors look comfortable and cozy, an 



A GLBirSi: OF FRANCK. 



213 



quite at home, and do not, shoulder to shoulder, and 
in solid lines, make a dead set at the play and the 
music. The theatre lias warm hangings, warm col- 
ors, cozy boxes and stalls, and is in no sense the pub- 
lic, away-fVom-home place we are so familiar with in 
this country. Again, one might know it was Paris by 
the character of the prints and pictures in the shop- 
windows; they are so clever, as art, one become? 
reprehensibly indifferent to their license. Whatever 
sins the French may be guilty- of, they never sin 
against art and good taste (except when in the frenzy 
of revolution), and, if Propriety is sometimes obliged 
to cry out " For shame ! " in the French capital, she 
must do so with ill-concealed admiration, like a fond 
mother chiding with word and gesture, while she ap- 
proves with tone and look. It is a foolish charge, 
often made, that the French make vice attractive ; 
they make it provocative of laughter ; the spark of 
wit is always evolved, and what is a better antidote 
to this kind of poison than mirth. 

They carry their wit even into their cuisine. Every 
dish set before you at the table is a picture, and 
tickles your eye before it does your palate. When I 
ordered fried eggs, they were brought on a snow- 
white napkin, which was artistically folded upon a 
liece of ornamented tissue-paper, that covered a china 
|,!ate ; if I asked for cold ham, it came in flakes, ar- 
rayed like great rose-leaves, with a green sprig or 
wo of parsley dropped upon it, and surrounded by a 
oorder of calves-foot jelly, like a setting of crystals. 



214 



AN OCTOBEK ABROAD. 



The bread revealed new qualities in the wheat, it was 
BO sweet and nutty ; and the fried potatoes, with 
which your beef-steak comes snowed under, are the 
very flower of the culinary art, and I believe impossi- 
ble in any other country. 

Even the ruins are in excellent taste, and are by 
far the best-behaved ruins 1 ever saw for so recent 
ones. I came near passing some of the most noted 
during my first w^alk without observing them. The 
main walls were all standing, and the fronts were as 
imposing as ever. Xo litter or rubbish, no charred 
timbers or blackened walls, only vacant windows and 
wrecked interiors, which do not very much mar the 
general outside effect 

My first genuine surprise was the morning after my 
arrival, which, according to my reckoning, was Sun- 
day ; and when I heard the usual week-day sounds, 
and, sallying forth, saw the usual week-day occupa- 
tions going on, — painters painting, glaziers glazing, 
masons on their scaffolds, etc., and heavy drays and 
maiket-wagons going through the streets, and many 
Bjops and bazaars open, — I must have presented to 
a scrutinizing beholder the air and manner of a man 
A\ a dream, so absorbed was I in running over the 
events of the week to find where the mistake had 
occurred, where I had failed to turn a leaf, or else 
had turned over two leaves for one. But each day 
had a distinct record, and every count resulted the 
§amo. It must be Sunday. Then it all dawned 
Bpou me that this was Pai is, and that the Parisiani 



A GLLMPSE OF FRANCE. 



did not have the reputation of being very strict Sab- 
batarians. 

The French give a touch of art to whatever they 
d(V Even the drivers of drays, and carts, and trucks, 
about the streets, are not content with a plain, mat- 
ter-of-fact whip, as an English or American laborer 
would be, but it must be a finely-modeled stalk, with 
a long, tapering lash tipped with the best silk snap- 
per. Always the inevitable snapper. I doubt if 
there is a whip in Paris without a snapper. Here is 
where the fine art, the rhetoric of driving, comes in. 
This converts a vulgar, prosy " gad " into a delicate 
instrument, to be wielded with pride and skill, and 
never to be literally applied to the backs of the ani- 
mals, but to be launched to the right and left into 
the air with a professional flourish, and a sharp, ring- 
ing report. Crack ! crack ! crack ! all day long go 
these ten thousand whips, like the boys' Fourth of 
Fuly fusillade. It was invariably the first sound I 
heard when I opened my eyes in the morning, and 
generally the last one at night. Occasionally some 
belated drayman would come hurrying along just as 
I was going to sleep, or some early bird before I was 
fully awake in the morning, and let off, in rapid suc- 
cession in front of my hotel, a volly from the tip of 
his lash that would make the street echo again, and 
that might well have been the envy of any r;ng- 
master that ever trod the tan-bark. Now and then, 
luring my ramblings, I would suddenly hear some 
.naster-whip, perhaps that of an old omnibus-driver, 



21G 



AX OCTOBEli ABRpAD. 



that would crack like a rifle, and, as it passed along 
all the lesser whips, all the amateur snappers, would 
Btrike up with a jealous and envious emulation, mak 
ing every foot-passenger wink, and one (myself) •at 
least almost to shade his eyes from the imaginary 
missiles. 

I record this fact because it " points a moral and 
adorns a tail." The French always give this extra 
touch. Everything has its silk snapper. Are not 
the literary whips of Paris famous for their rhetor- 
ical tips and the sting there is in them ? What 
French writer ever goaded his adversary with the 
belly of his lash, like the Germans and English, when 
he could blister him with its silken end, and the per- 
cussion of wit he heard at every stroke ? 

In the shops, and windows, and public halls, etc., 
this passion takes the form of mirrors, — mirrors 
mirrors everywhere, on the walls, in the panels, in 
the cases, on the pillars, extending, multiplying, open- 
ng up vistas this way and that, and converting the 
bmallest shop, with a solitary girl and a solitary cus- 
tomer, into an immense enchanted bazaar, across 
whose endless counters customers lean and pretty 
girls display goods. The French are always before 
the looking-glass, even when they eat and drink. I 
never went into a restaurant without seeing four or 
five fac-similes of myself approaching from as many 
different directions, giving the order to the waiter 
\nd sitting down at the table. Hence, I always ha'' 
plenty of company at dinner, though we were none o 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 



217 



ns very social, and I was the only one who entered 
or passed out at the door. The show-window^s are 
the greatest cheat. What an expanse, how crowded, 
and how brilliant ! You see, for instance, an immense 
array of jewelry, and pause to have a look. You 
begin at the erd nearest you, and, after gazing a 
moment, take a step to run your eye along the daz- 
zling display, when, presto ! the trays of watches and 
diamonds vanish in a twinkling, and you find yourself 
looking into the door, or your delighted eyes suddenly 
bring up against a brick wall, disenchanted so quickly 
that you almost stagger. 

I went into a popular music and dancing hall one 
night, and found myself in a perfect enchantment of 
mirrors. Not an inch of wall was anywhere visible. 
I was suddenly caught up into the seventh heaven 
of looking-glasses, from which I came down with a 
shock the moment I emerged into the street again. 
I observed that this mirror contagion had broken out 
in spots in London, and, in the narrow and crowded 
condition of the shops there, even this illusory en- 
largement would be a relief. It might not improve 
the air, or add to the available storage capacity of the 
establishment, but it would certainly give a wider 
range to the eye. 

The American no sooner sets foot on the soil of 
France than he perceives he hao entered a nation of 
drinkers as he has left a nation of eaters. Men do 
iiot >*ve by bread here, but by wine. Drink, drink, 
drink everywhere — along all lha boulevards, and 



218 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



Streets, and quays, and bj-ways ; in the restaurant* 
and under awnings, and seated on the open sidewalk, 
social and convivial wine-bibbing — not hastily and 
in large quantities, but leisurely and reposingly, and 
with much conversation and enjoyment. 

Drink, drink, drink, and with equal frequency and 
nearly as much openness, the reverse or diuretic side 
of the fact. (How our self-consciousness would 
writhe ! AVe should all turn to stone !) Indeed, the 
ceaseless deglutition of mankind in this part of the 
world is only equaled by the answering and enormous 
activity of the human male kidneys. This latter was 
too astonishing, and too public a fact to go unmen- 
tioned. At Dieppe, by the reeking tubs standing 
about, I suspected some local distemper, but when I 
got to Paris, and saw how fully and openly the wants 
of the male citizen in this respect were recognized by 
the sanitary and municipal regidations, and that the 
urinals were thicker than the lamp-posts, I concluded 
it must be a national trait, and at once abandoned 
the theory that had begun to take possession of my 
mind, viz, that diabetes was no doubt the cause of the 
decadence of France. Yet I suspect it is no more 
a peculiarity of French manners than of European 
manners generally, and in its light I relished im- 
mensely the history of a well-known* statue which 
!tan.l5 in a public square in one of the German cities 
The statue commemorates the unblushing audacity o 
a peasant going to market with a goose under eacl: 
arm, who "gnored even the presence of the king, and 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 



219 



it is at certain times dressed up and made the centre 
of holiday festivities. It is a pnl)]ic fountain, and itg 
living streams of water make it one of tlie most ap- 
propriate and snirgestive monuments in Europe. I 
would only suggest, that they canonize the Little 
Man, and that the Parisians recognize a tutelar deity 
in the Goddess Urea, who should have an appropri- 
ate monument somewhere in the Place de la Con- 
corde ! 

One of the loveliest features of Paris is the Seine. 
I was never tired of walking along its course. Its 
granite embankments; its numberless superb bridges, 
throwing their graceful spans across it ; its clear, 
limpid w^ater ; its paved bed ; the women washing ; 
the* lively little boats ; and the many noble buildings 
that look down upon it — make it the most charm- 
ng citizen-river I ever beheld. Rivers generally get 
:adly soiled when they come to the city, like some 
other rural travelers ; but the Seine is as pure as a 
meadow-brook wherever I saw it, though I dare say 
it does not escape without some contamination. I 
believe it receives the sewerage discharges farther 
down, and is, no doubt, turbid and pitchy enough 
there, like its brother, the Thames, which comes into 
London with the sky and the clouds in its bosom, 
und leaves it reeking with filth and slime. 

After I had tired of the city, I took a day to visit 
St. Cloud, and refresh myself by a glimpse of the 
imperial park there, and a I'ttle of Nature's privacy, 
if such could be had, which proved to be the case, fof 



220 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



A more agreeable day I have rarely passed. The 
park, toward which I. at once made my way, is an 
immense natural forest, sweeping up over gentle hilla 
from the banks of the Seine, and brought into order 
and jierspective by a system of carriage-ways and 
avenues, which radiate from numerous centres like 
the boulevards of Paris. At these centres were foun- 
tains and statues, with sunlight falling upon them ; 
and, looking along the cool, dusky avenues, as they 
opened, this way and that, upon these marble tab- 
lecnix, the effect was very striking, and was not at all 
marred to my eye by the neglect into which the place 
had evidently fallen. The woods were just mellow- 
ing into October; the large, shining horse-chestnuts 
dropped at my feet as I walked along ; the •jay 
screamed over the trees ; and occasionally a red 
squirrel — larger and softer-looking than ours, not 
BO sleek, nor so noisy and vivacious — skipped among 
the branches. Soldiers passed, here and there, to 
and from some encampment on the farther side of the 
park ; and, hidden from view somewhere in the for- 
est-glades, a band of buglers filled the woods with 
wild musical strains. 

English royal parks and pleasure grounds are quite 
different. There the prevailing character is pastoral 
— immense stretches of lawn, dotted with the royal 
oak, and alive with deer. But the Frenchman loves 
forests, evidently, and nearly all his pleasure groundi 
About Paris are immense woods. The Bois de Bou 
vogne, the forests of Yincennes, of St. Germain, o 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 



221 



Bondy, and I don't know how many others, are near 
at hand, and are much prized. What the animus of 
this love may be is not so clear. It cannot be a love 
of solitude, for the French are characteristically a 
social and gregarious people. It cannot be the Eng- 
lish poetical or Wordsworthian feeling for Nature, 
because French literature does not show this sense or 
this kind of perception. I am inclined to think the 
forest is congenial to their love of form and their 
sharp perceptions, but more especially to that kind of 
fear and wildness which they at times exhibit ; for 
civilization has not quenched the primitive ardor and 
fierceness of the Frenchman yet, and it is to be hoped 
it never may. He is still more than half a wild man, 
and, if turned loose in the woods, I think would de- 
velop, in tooth and nail, and in all the savage, brute 
instincts, more rapidly than the men of any other 
race, except possibly the Slavic. Have not his de- 
scendants in this country — the Canadian French — 
turned and lived with the Indians, and taken to wild, 
savage customs with more relish and genius than have 
any other people ? How hairy and vehement and 
pantomimic he is 1 How his eyes glance from under 
his heavy brows ! His type among the animals is 
the wolf, and one readily recalls how largely the 
wolf figures in the traditions and legends and folk- 
lore of Continental Europe, and how closely his re- 
aaains are associated w^ith those of man in the bone- 
caves of the geologists. He has not stalked through 
iheir forests and fascinated their imaginations so long 



222 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



for nothing. The she-wolf suckled other founders 
beside those of Rome. Especially when I read ol 
the adventures of Russian and Polish exiles in Siberia 
— men of aristocratic linea<]re. wanderinor amid snow 
and arctic cold, sleeping in rocks or in hollow trees, 
and holding their own, empty-handed, against hunger 
and frost and their fiercer, brute embodiments — do 
I recognize a hardihood and a ferity whose wet-nurse, 
ages back, may well have been this gray dut of the 
woods. 

It is this fierce, untamable core that gives the point 
and the splendid audacity to French literature and 
art — its vehemence and impatience of restraint. It 
is the salt of their speech, the nitre of their wit, 
When morbid, it gives that rabid and epileptic ten- 
dency which sometimes shows itself in Victor Hugo. 
In this great writer, however, it more frequently 
takes the form of an aboriorinal fierceness and hunger 
that glares and bristles, and is insatiable and omnivo- 
rous. 

And how many times has Paris, that boudoir of 
.oeauty and fashion, proved to be a wolf s lair, swarm- 
ing with jaws athirst for human throats I — the lust 
for blood and the greed for plunder, sleeping, biding 
wheir time, never extinguished. 

I do not contemn it. To the natural historian, it 
is goo<l. It is a return to first principles again after 
dO much art, and culture, and Iving, and chaauinisme, 
Rnd shows these old civilizations in no danger of be- 
vOming effete yet. It is like the hell of fire beneath 



A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE. 



223 



our feet, which the geologists tell us is the life of the 
globe. Were it not for it, who would not at times 
despair of the French character ? As long as this 
fiery core remains, I shall believe France capable of 
recovering from any disaster to her arms. The 
mortal ripening " of the nation is stayed. 

The English and Germans, on the other hand, are 
saved b}^ great breadth and heartiness, and a consti- 
tutional tendency to coarseness of fibre which art and 
civilization abate very little. 

What is to save us in this country, I wonder, who 
have not the French regnancy and fire, nor the Teu- 
tonic heartiness and vis inertice, and w^ho are already 
in danger of refining or attenuating into a high-heeled, 
Bhort-jawed, genteel race, with more brains than 
stomach, and more address than character ? 



224 



AN OCTOBEP. ABROAD. 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 

I HAD imatjined that the next best thiD<r to seeing 
England would be to see Scotland; but as this latter 
pleasure was denied me, certainly the next best thing 
was seeing Scotland's greatest son. Carlyle has been 
BO constantly and perhaps justly represented as a 
stormy and wrathTul person, brewing bitter denunci- 
ation for America and Americans, that I cannot for- 
bear to mention the sweet and genial mood in which 
we found him — a gentle and affectionate grandfather, 
with his delicious Scotch brogue and rich melodious 
talk, overflowing with reminiscences of his earlier 
life, of Scott and Goethe and Edinburgh, and other 
men a!id places lie had known. Learning I was 
especially interested in birds, he discoursed of the 
lark and nightingale and mavis, framing his remarks 
about them in some episode of his personal ex- 
perience, and investing their songs with the double 
charm of his description and his adventure. 

" It is only geese who get plucked there," said my 
companion after we had left — a man who had known 
Carlyle intimately for many years ; silly persons who 
have no veneration for the great man, and come tc 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



225 



convert him or change his convictions upon subjects 
to which he has devoted a life-time of profound 
thought and meditation. With such persons he has 
no patience." 

Carlyle had just returned from Scotland, where he 
had spent the summer. The Scotch hills and mount- 
ains, he said, had an ancient, mournful look, as if the 
weight of immeasurable time had settled down upon 
them. Their look was in Ossian — his sj)irit reflected 
theirs; and as I gazed upon the venerable man be- 
fore me and noted his homely and rugged yet pro- 
found and melancholy expression, I knew that their 
look was upon him also, and that a greater than Os- 
sian had been nursed amid those lonely hills. Few 
men in literature have felt the burden of the world, 
the weight of the inexorable conscience, as has Car- 
lyle, or drawn such fresh inspiration from that source. 
However we may differ from him (and almost in self- 
defense one must differ from a man of such intense 
and overweening personality), it must yet be admit- 
ted that he habitually speaks out of that primitive 
silence and solitude in which only the heroic soul 
dwells. Certainly not in contemporary British lit- 
erature is there another writer whose bowstring has 
such a twang. 

I left London in the early part of November, and 
^urned my face wes<"ward, going icisurely through 
England and Wales, and stringing upon my thread a 
few of the famous places, as Oxford, Stratford, War- 
wick, Birmingham, Chester, and taking a last look ol 
15 



226 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



the benign land. The weather was fair ; I was yoked 
to no companion, and was apparently the only touris* 
on that route. The field occupations drew my eye 
as usual. They were very simple, and consisted 
mainly of the gathering of root crops. I saw no 
building of fences, or of houses or barns, and no 
draining or improving of any kind worth mentioninor, 
these things having all been done long ago. Speak- 
ing of barns reminds me that I do not remember to 
have seen a building of this kind while in England, 
much less a group or cluster of them as at home, hay 
and grain being always stacked, and the mildness ol 
the climate rendering a protection of this kind un- 
necessary for the cattle and sheep. In contrast, Amer- 
ica may be called the country of barns and out- 
buildings : 

"Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil bams," 

as VTalt "Whitman apostrophizes the Union. 

I missed also many familiar features in the autumn 
fields — those given to our landscape by Indian corn, 
for instance, the tent-like stouts, the shucks, the rus- 
tling blades, the ripe pumpkins strewing the field; for 
notwithstanding England is such a garden our corn 
ioes not flourish there. I saw no buckwheat either, 
the red stubble and little squat figures of the upright 
Bheaves of which are so noticeable in our farming 
districts at this season. Neither did I see any gather- 
ing of apples, or orchards from which to gather them. 
^ As sure as there are apples in Herefordshire," seemi 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK, 227 

jo he SL proverb in England ; yet it is very certain 
that the orchard is not the institution anywhere in 
Britain that it is in this country, or so prominent a 
feature in the hmdscape. Tiie native ap{)les are in- 
ferior in size and quality, and are sold by the pound. 
Pears were more abundant at the fruit stands, and 
were of superior excellence and very cheap. 

I hope it will not be set down to any egotism of 
my own, but rather to the effect upon an ardent pil- 
grim of the associations of the pluce and its renown 
in literature, that all my experience at Stratford seems 
worthy of recording, and to be invested with a sort of 
poetical interest — even the fact that I walked up from 
the station with a handsome young country-woman 
who had chanced to occupy a seat in the same com- 
partment of the car with me from Warwick, and who, 
learning the nature of my visit, volunteered to show 
me the Red Horse Inn, as her course led her that 
way. We walked mostly in the middle of the street, 
with our umbrellas hoisted, for it was raining slightly, 
while a boy wdiom we found lying in wait for such a 
chance trudged along in advance of us with my lug- 
gage. 

At the Red Horse the pilgrim is in no danger of 
\iaving the charm and the poetical atmosphere with 
which he has surrounded himself dispelled, but rather 
enlinnced and deepened, especially if he has the luck 
I had, to find few other guests, and to fall into the 
hands of one of those simple straw^berrylike English 
tiousemaids, who gives him a cozy sung little parloi 



228 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



%\l to himself, as was the luck of Irving also ; who 
answers his every summons, and looks into his eye8 
with the simplicity and directness of a child ; who 
could step from no page but that of Scott or the 
divine William himself ; who puts the " coals " on 
your grate with her own hands, and when you ask 
for a lunch spreads the cloth on one end of the table 
while you sit reading or writing at the other, and 
places before you a whole haunch of delicious cold 
mutton with bread and homebrewed ale, and requests 
you to help yourself ; who, when bedtime arrives, 
lights you up to a clean, sweet chamber, with a high 
canopied bed hung with snow-white curtains ; who 
calls you in the morning, and makes ready your 
breakfast while you sit with your feet on the fender 
before the blazing grate ; and to whom you pay your 
reckoning on leaving, having escaped entirely all the 
barrenness and publicity of hotel life, and had all the 
privacy and quiet of home without any of its cares 
or interruptions. And this, let me say here, is the 
great charm of the characteristic English inn ; it has 
a domestic, homelike air. " Taking mine ease at 
mine inn" has a real significance in England. You 
can take your ease and more ; you can take real solid 
comfort. In the first place, there is no bar-rooui, 
wnd consequently no loafers, or pimps, or fumes ot 
tobacco or whiskey ; then there is no landlord or 
proprietor or hotel clerk to lord it over you. The 
host, if there is such a person, has a way of keeping 
himself in the background, or absolutely out of sigh^ 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



22S 



^hat is entirely admirable. You are monarch of al) 
you survey. You are not made to feel that it is ir 
Bome one else's house you are stopping, and that you 
Diust court the master for his favor. It is your house, 
you are the master, and you have onl}^ to enjoy your 
own. 

In the gray, misty afternoon I walked out over 
the Avon, like all English streams full to its grassy 
brim, and its current betrayed only by a floating 
leaf or feather, and along English fields and roads, 
and noted the familiar sights and sounds and smells 
of autumn. The spire of the church w^here Shake- 
speare lies buried shot up stately and tall from the 
banks of the Avon, a little removed from the village ; 
and the church itself, more like a cathedral in size 
and beauty, was also visible above the trees. Thith- 
erward I soon bent my ste})s, and while I was lin- 
gering among the graves,^ reading the names and 
dates so many centuries old, and surveying the gray 
and weather-worn exterior of the church, the slow 
tolling of the bell announced a funeral. Upon such 
a stage, and amid such surroundings, with all this 
past for a background, the shadowy figure of the peer- 
less bard towering over all, the incident of the mo- 
.nent \iad a strange interest to me, and I looked about 
lor the funeral cortege. Presently a group of three 

1 In England the chirch always stands in the midst of the 
ip'uveyard, and hence can be approached only on foot. People, it 
icems, never go to church in carriages or wagons, but on fooU 
tlcng patJis and lanes. 



230 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



or fou • figures appeared at the head of the avenue of 
limes, foremost of them, a woman, bearing an infant's 
cof?in under her arm, wrapped in a white sheet. The 
clerk and sexton, with their robes on, went out to 
meet them, and conducted them into the church, 
where the service proper to such occasions was read, 
after which the coffin was taken out as it was brought 
in, and lowered into the grave. It was the smallest 
funeral I ever saw, and my efforts to play the part of 
a sympathizing public by hovering in the background, 
I fear, was only an intrusion after all. 

Having loitered to my heart's content amid the 
stillness of the old church, and paced to and fro above 
the illustrious dead, I set out, with the sun about an 
hour high, to see the house of Anne Hathaway at 
Shattery, shunning the highway and following a 
path that followed hedge-rows, crossed meadows and 
pastures, skirted turnip fields and cabbage patches, to 
a quaint gathering of low thatched houses — a little 
villaire of farmers and laborers about a mile from 
Stratford. At the gate in front of the house a boy 
was hitching a little gray donkey, almost hidden be- 
Beath two immense panniers filled with coarse hay. 

" Whose house is this ? " inquired I, not being quite 
able to make out the name. 

Hann 'Ataway's 'ouse," said he. 

So I took a good look at Anne's house — a home'.y 
auman-looking habitation, with its old oak be^*ms and 
thatched roof — but did not go in, as Mrs. Baker, who 
ws^s eyeing me from the door, evidently hoped I would 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YOKK. 231 



but chose rather to walk past it and up the slight 
rise of ground beyond, where I paused and looked 
out over the fields just lit up by the setting sun. lie- 
turning, I stepped into the Shakespeare Tavern, a 
little honiely wayside place on a street, or more like 
a path, apart from the main road, and the good dame 
brought me some " home-brewed," which I drank 
silting by a rude table on a rude bench in a small, 
low room, with a stone floor and an immense chim- 
ney. The coals burned cheerily, and the crane and 
hooks in the fireplace called up visions of my earliest 
childhood. Apparently the house and the surround- 
ings, and the atmosphere of the place and the ways 
of the people, were what they were three hundred 
years ago. It was all sweet and good, and I enjoyed 
it hugely, and was much refreshed. 

Crossing the fields in the gloaming, I came up with 
some children, each with a tin bucket of milk, thread- 
ing their way toward Stratford. The little girl, a 
child ten years old, having a larger bucket than the 
rest, was obliged to set down her burden every few 
rods and rest ; so I lent her a helping hand. I 
thought her prattle, in that broad but musical patois, 
Knd along these old hedge-rows, the most delicious I 
ever heard. She said they came to Shattery for milk 
because it was much better than they got at Stratford, 

America they had a cow of their own. Had she 
lived in America then ? Oh, yes, four years," and 
the stream of her talk was fuller at once. But I 
bardly recognized even the name of my own country 



232 



AX OCTOBER ABROAD. 



in her iimocent prattle ; it seemed like a land of Ca- 
ble — all bad a remote mythological air, and 1 
pressed my iuiquiries as if I was hearing of this 
strange land for the first time. She had an uncle 
still living in the " States of Hoio," but exactly where 
her father had lived was not so clear. In The States 
somewhere, and in " Ogden's Valley." There was a 
lake there that had salt in it, and not far off was the 
sea. "In America,'' she said, and she gave such a 
sweet and novel twang to her words, we had a cow 
of our own, and two horses and a wagon and a dog." 

Yes," joined in her little brother, and nice chick- 
ens and a goose." "* But," continued the sister, " we 
owns none o' them here." *'In America 'most every- 
body owned their houses, and we could a' owned a 
house if we had stayid." 

" What made you leave America ? " I inquired. 

" 'Cause me father wanted to see his friends." 

" Did your mother want to come back ? " 

" No, me mother wanted to stay in America." 

" Is food as plenty here — do you have as much to 
eat as in The States ? " 

" Oh, yes, and more. The first year we were in 
. America we could not get enough to eat." 

But you do not get meat very often here, do 
you ? " 

" Quite often," — not so confidently. 
" How often ? " 

" Well, sometimes we has pig's liver in the week 
time, and we ajlers has meat of a Sunday; we likea 
meat." 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



233 



Here we emerged from the fields into the high- 
way, uud the happy children went their way and 1 
mine. 

In the evening, as I was strolling about the town, 
a poor, crippled, half-witted fellow came jerking him- 
eelf across the street after me and offered himself as 
a guide. 

" I 'm the feller what showed Artemus Ward 
around when he was here. You 've heerd on me, I 
expect ? Not ? Why, he characterized me in ' Punch,' 
he did. He asked me if Shakespeare took all the wit 
out of Stratford? And this is what I said to him : 
No, he left some for me.' " 

But not wishing to be guided just then, I bought 
the poor fellow off with a few pence, and kept on ray 
way. 

Stratford is a quiet old place, and seems mainly 
the abode of simple common folk. One sees no 
marked signs of either poverty or riches. It is situ- 
ated in a beautiful expanse of rich rolling farming 
country, but bears little resemblance to a rural town 
in America : not a tree, not a spear of grass ; the 
bouses packed close together and crowded up on the 
itreet, the older ones presenting their gables and 
showing their structure of oak beams. English oak 
seems incapable of decay even when exposed to the 
weather, while in-doors it takes three or four centu- 
ries to give it its best polish and hue. 

I took my last view of k^tratford quite early of a 
brght Sunday morning, when the ground was white 



234 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



with a dense hoar-frosu The great church, as I ap- 
proached it, loomed up under the sun through a bank 
of blue mist. The Avon was like glass, with little 
wraiths of vapor clinging here and there to its sur- 
face. Two white swans stood on its banks m front 
of the church, and, without regarding the mirror tliat 
so drew my eye, preened their plumage ; while farther 
up, a piebald cow reached down for some grass under 
the brink where the frost had not settled, and a pie- 
bald cow in the river reached up for the same morsel. 
Rooks and crows and jackdaws were noisy in the 
trees overhead and about the church spire. I stood 
a long while musing upon the scene. 

At the birthplace of the poet, the keeper, an elderly 
woman, shivered with cold as she showed me about. 
The primitive, home-made appearance of things, the 
stone floor much worn and broken, the rude oak 
beams and doors, the leaden sash with the little win- 
dow panes scratched full of names, among others that 
of Walter Scott, the great chimneys where quite a 
fiimily could literally sit in the chimney corner, etc., 
were what I expected to see, and looked very humap 
hud good. It is impossible to associate anything bu^ 
sttrling qualities and simple, healthful character^ 
with these early English birthplaces. They are nests 
built with faithfulness and affection, and through them 
lue seems to get a glimpse of devouter, sturdier 
times. 

From Stratford I went back to Warwick, thence 
to Birmingham, thence to Shrewsbury, thence U 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 235 



Chester, the old Roman camp, thence to Holyhead, 
being intent on getting a glimpse of Wales and the 
Welsh, and may be taking a tramp up Snowdon or 
some of his congeners, for my legs literally ached for 
a mountain climb, a certain set of muscles being so 
long unused. In the course of my journey ings I trifid 
each class or compartment of the cars, first, second, 
and third, and found but little choice. The difference 
is simply in the upholstering, and if you are provided 
with a good shawl or wrap-up, you need not be par- 
ticular about that. In the first, the floor is carpeted 
and the seats substantially upholstered, usually in 
blue woolen cloth ; in the second, the seat alone is 
cushioned ; and in the third, you sit on a bare bench. 
But all classes go by the same train, and often in the 
same car, or carriage, as they say here. In the first 
class, travel the real and the shoddy nobility and 
Americans; in the second, commercial and profes- 
sional men ; and in the third, the same, with such of 
the peasantry and humbler classes as travel by rail. 
The only annoyance I experienced in the third class 
arose from the freedom with which the smokers, 
always largely in the majority, indulged in their 
favorite pastime, yl perceive there is one advantage 
in being a smoker : you are never at a loss for some- 
thing to do — you can smoke.) 

At Chester I stopped ov^er night, selecting my 
hotel for its name, the " Green Dragon." It was 
Sunday night, and the only street scene my rambles 
afforded was quite a large gatnering of persons on a 



236 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



corner listening, apparently with indifference or cu* 
riosity, to an ignorant, hot-headed street preacher. 
"Now I am going to tell you something you will not 
like to hear — something that will make you angry. 
I know it will. It is this ; I expect to go to lieaven, 
I am perfectly confident I shall go there. I know 
you do not like that." But why his hearers should 
not like that did not appear. For mj part I thought, 
for the good of all concerned, the sooner he went the 
better. 

In the morning I mounted the wall in front of the 
cathedral, and with a very lively feeling of wonder and 
astonishment walked completely around the town on 
top of it, a distance of about two miles. The wall, be- 
ing in places as high as the houses, afforded some in- 
teresting views into attics, chambers, back yards, etc. 
I envied the citizens such a delightful promenade 
ground, full of variety and interest. Just the right 
distance, too, for a brisk turn to get up an appetite^ 
or a leisurely stroll to tone down a dinner ; while as 
a place for chance meetings of happy lovers, or to get 
away from one's companions if the flame must burn 
in secret and in silence, it is unsurpassed. I occa- 
sionally met or passed other pedestrians, but noticed 
that it required a brisk pace to lessen the distance 
between myself and an attractive girlish figure a few 
lundred feet in advance of me. The i ail road cuts 
Rcross ono corner of the town, piercing the walls with 
two very carefully constructed archways. Indeed 
the people are very choice of tlie wall, and one seei 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



237 



posted notices of the city authorities, offering a re- 
ward for any one detected in injuring it. It has stood 
now some seven or eight centuries, and from appear- 
ances is good for one or two more. There are several 
towers on the wall, from one of which some English 
king, over two hundred years ago, witnessed the de- 
feat of his army on Eowton Moor. But when I was 
there, though the sun was shining, the atmosphere 
was so loaded with smoke that I could not catch even 
a glimpse of the moor where the hattle took place. 
There is a gateway through the wall on each of the 
four sides, and this slender and beautiful but blackened 
and worn span, as if to alford a transit from the 
chamber windows on one side of the street to those 
of the other, is the first glimpse the traveler gets ot 
the wall. The gates beneath the arches have en 
tirely disappeared. The ancient and carved oak 
fronts of the buildings on the main street, and the 
inclosed sidewalk that ran through the second stories 
of the shops and stores, were not less strange and 
novel to me. The sidewalk was like a gentle up- 
heaval in its swervings and undulations, or like a walk 
through the woods, the oaken posts and braces on the 
outside answering for the trees, and the prospect 
ahead for the vista. 

The ride along the coast of Wales was crowded 
with novelty and interest — :he sea on one side and 
the mountains on the other — the latter bleak and 
heathery in the foreground, but cloud-capped and 
»now-white in the distance. The afternoon was dark 



238 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



and lowering, and just before entering Conway W6 
had a very striking view. A turn in the road sud- 
denly brouglit us to where we looked through a 
bhick frame-work of heathery hills, and beheld Snow- 
don and his chiefs apparently with the full rigors of 
winter upon them. It was so satisfjdng that I lost 
at once my desire to tramp up them. I barely had 
time to turn from the mountains to get a view oi 
Conway Castle, one of the largest and most impres- 
sive ruins I saw. The train cuts close to the great 
round tower, and plunges through the wall of gray, 
shelving stone into the bluff beyond, giving the 
traveler only time to glance and marvel. 

About the only glimpse I got of the Welsh charac- 
ter was on this route. At one of the stations, Aber- 
gele, I think, a fresh, blooming young woman got into 
our compartment, occupied by myself and two com 
mercial travelers (bag-men, or, as we say, drum- 
mers and before she could take her seat was com- 
plimented by one of them on her good looks. Feeling 
in a measure responsible for the honor and good 
breeding of the compartment, I could hardly conceal 
my embarrassment; but the young Abergeless her- 
self did not seem to take it amiss, and when presently 
the jolly bag-man addressed his conversation to her, 
replied beseemingly and good-naturedly. As she 
arose to leave the car at her destination, a few stations 
beyond, he said " he thought it a pity that such a 
6wect, pretty girl should leave us so soon," and seiz- 
\ng her hand the audacious rascal actually solicited % 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



239 



kiss. I expected this would be the one drop too 
much, and that we should have a scene, and began to 
regard myself in the light of an avenger of an insulted 
Welsh beauty, when my heroine paused, and I be- 
lieve actually deliberated whether or not to comply 
before two spectators ! Certain it is that she yielded 
the highwayman her hand, and bidding him a gentle 
good-night in Welsh, smilingly and blushingly left 
the car. " Ah," said the villain, these Welsh girls 
are capital ; I know them like a .book, and have had 
many a lark with them." 

At Holyhead I got another glimpse of the Welsh. 
I had booked for Dublin, and having several hours on 
my hands of a dark, threatening night before the de-, 
parture of the steamer, I sallied out in the old town, 
tilted up against the side of the hill, in the most ad- 
venturous spirit I could summon up, threading my 
way through the dark, deserted streets, pausing for a 
moment in front of a small house with closed doors 
and closely-shuttered windows, where I heard sup- 
pressed voices, the monotonous scraping of a fiddle, 
and a lively shuffling of feet, and passing on finally 
entered, drawn by the musical strains, a quaint old 
place, where a blind harper seated in the corner of a 
rude kind of coffee and sitting-room, was playing 
on a harp. I liked the atmosphere of the place, so 
primitive and wholesome, and was quite willing to 
have my attention drawn off from the increasing 
Btorm without, and from the bitter cup which I knew 
the Irish sea was preparing for ma The harper 



240 AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 

presently struck up a livelier strain, when two Welsh 
gij'ls, who were chatting before the grate, one of them 
as dumpy as a bag of meal, and the other slender and 
tall, stepped into the middle of the floor and began to 
dance to the delicious music, a Welsh mechanic and 
myself drinking our ale and looking on approvingly. 
After a while the pleasant, modest-looking bar-maid, 
whom I had seen behind the beer levers as I entered, 
came in, and, after looking an for a moment, was 
persuaded to lay down her sewing and join in the 
dance. Then there came in a sandy-haired Welsh- 
man, who could speak and understand only his native 
dialect, and finding his neighbors affiliating with an 
Englishman, as he supposed, and trying to speak the 
hateful tongue, proceeded to berate them sharply (for 
it appears the Welsh are still jealous of the English) ; 
Wt when they explained to him that I was not an 
Englishman, but an American, and had already twice 
Etood the beer all around (at an outlay of sixpence), 
he subsided into a sulky silence and regarded me in- 
tently. 

About eleven o'clock a policeman paused at the 
door and intimated that it was time the house was 
shut up and the music stopped, and to outward ap- 
pearances his friendly warning was complied with ; 
hut the harp still discoursed in a minor key, and a 
light tripping and shuffling of responsive feet mighf 
occasionally have been heard for an hour later 
When I arose to go it was with a feeling of regre 
tliat I could not see more of this simple and social 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



241 



people), with whom I at once felt that " touch of iiat- 
are'* which "makes all the world kin," and my leave- 
taking was warm and hearty accordingly. 

Through the wind and the darkness 1 threaded my 
way to the wharf, and in less than two hours after- 
ward was a most penitent voyager, and fitfully join- 
ing in that doleful gastriloqual chorus that so often 
goes up from the cabins of those channel steamers. 

I hardly know why I went to Ireland, except it 
was to indulge the few drops of Irish blood in my 
veins, and may be also with a view to shorten my 
sea voyage by a day. I also felt a desire to see one 
or two literary men there, and in this sense my jour- 
ney was eminently gratifying ; but so far from short- 
ening my voyage by a day, it lengthened it by three 
days, that being the time it took me to recover from 
the effects of it ; and as to the tie of blood, I think it 
must nearly all have run out, for I felt but few con- 
genital throbs while in Ireland. 

The Englishman at home is a much more lova- 
ble animal than the Englishman abroad, but Pat in 
Ireland is even more of a pig than in this country. 
Indeed, the squalor and poverty, and cold, skinny 
wretchedness one sees in Ireland, and (what freezes 
our sympathies) the groveling, swiny shiftlessness 
that pervades these hovels, no traveler can be pre- 
pared for. It is the bare prose of misery, the unhe- 
roic of tragedy. There not ore redeeming or miti- 
gating feature. 

Railway traveling in Ireland is not so rapid oi ao 



242 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



cheap as in England. Neither are the hotels as good 
or as clean, or the fields so well kept, or the look of 
the country so thrifty and peaceful. The dissatisfac- 
tion of the people is in the very air. Ireland looks 
sour and sad. She looks old, too, as do all those 
countries beyond seas, old in a way that the Ameri- 
can is a stranger to. It is not the age of nature, the 
unshaken permanence of the hills through long peri- 
ods of time, but the weight of human years and 
haman sorrows, as if the earth sympathized with man 
and took on his attributes and infirmities. 

I did not go much about Dublin, and the most 
characteristic thing I saw there were those queer, 
uncomfortable dog carts, a sort of Irish bull on wheels, 
with the driver on one side balancing the passenger 
on the other, and the luggage occupying the seat of 
safety between. It comes the nearest to riding on 
horseback, and on a side-saddle at that, of any vehicle 
traveling I ever did. 

I stopped part of a day at Mallow, an old town on 
the Black water, in one of the most fertile agricultural 
districts of Ireland. The situation is fine, and an 
American naturally expects to see a charming rural 
town planted with trees and filled with clean, com- 
fortable homes ; but he finds instead a wretched place, 
Bmitten with a plague of filth and mud, and offering 
hot one object upon which the eye can dwell with 
pleasure, and mat is the ruins of an old castle, " Mal- 
ow Castle over Blackwater," which dates back to the 
:iine of Queen Elizabeth. It stands amid noble treea 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



243 



on the banks of the river, and its walls, some of them 
thirty or forty feet high, are completely overrun with 
ivy. The Blackwater, a rapid, amber-colored stream, 
ks spanned at this point by a superb granite bridge. 

And I will say here that anything like a rural town 
in our sense, a town with trees and grass and large 
spaces about the houses, gardens, yards, shrubbery, 
coolness, fragrance, etc., seems unknown in England 
or Ireland. The towns and villages are all remnants 
of feudal times, and seem to have been built with an 
eye to safety and compactness, or else men were more 
social and loved to get closer together then than now. 
Perhaps the damp, chilly climate made them draw 
nearer together. At any rate, the country towns are 
little cities ; or rather it is as if another London had 
been cut up in little and big pieces and distributed 
over the land. 

In the afternoon, to take the kinks out of my legs, 
and quicken if possible my circulation a little, which 
since the passage over the Channel had felt as if it was 
thick and green, I walked rapidly to the top of the 
Kockmeledown Mountains, getting a good view oJ 
Irish fields and roads and fences as I went up, and a 
very wide and extensive view of the country after I 
had reached the summit, and improving the atmos- 
phere of my physical tenem.ent amazingly. These 
mountains have no trees or bushes or other growth 
than a harsh prickly heather, about a foot high, 
which begins exactly at the foot of tlie mountain. 
Ifou are walking on smooth, fine meadow land, when 



244 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



you leap a fence and there is the heather. On the 
highest point of this mountain, and on the higliest 
point of all the monntains around, was a low stone 
mound, which I was puzzled to know the meaning of. 
Standing there, the country rolled away beneath mo 
under a cold, gray November sky, and, as was the caso 
with the English landscape, looked singularly deso- 
late — the desolation of a dearth, of human homes, in- 
dustrial centres, families, workers, and owners of the 
soil. Few roads, scarce ever a vehicle, no barns, no 
groups of bright, well-ordered buildings, indeed no 
farms and neighborhoods and school-houses, but a 
wide spread of rich, highly-cultivated country, with 
here and there visible to close scrutiny small gray 
Btone houses with thatched roofs, the abodes of pov- 
erty and wretchedness. A recent English writer says 
the first thing that struck him in American landscape 
painting was the absence of man and the domestic 
animals from the pictures, and the preponderance of 
rude, wild nature; and his first view of this country 
seems to have made the same impression. But it is 
certainly true that the traveler through any of our 
v>lder States, will see ten houses, rural habitations, to 
erne in England or Ireland, though, as a matter of 
course, nature here looks much less domesticated and 
much less expressive of human occupancy and con- 
tact. The Old World people have clung to the soil 
closer and more lovingly than we do. The ground 
has been more precious. They have had none to 
iraste, and have made the most of every inch of it 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 245 



Wherever they have touched they have taken root 
and throve as best they could. Then the American 
IS more cosmopolitan and less domestic. He is not 
80 local in his feelings and attachments. He does 
not bestow himself upon the earth or upon his home 
as his ancestors did. He feathers his nest very little. 
Why should he ? He may migrate to-morrow and 
build another. He is like the passenger pigeon that 
lays its eggs and rears its young upon a little platform 
of bare twigs. Our paverty and nakedness is, in this 
respect, I think, beyond dispute. There is nothing 
nest-like about our homes, either in their interiors or 
exteriors. Even wealth and^taste and foreign aids 
rarely attain that cozy, mellowing atmosphere that 
pervades not only the lowly birthplaces but the halls 
and manor-houses of older lands. And what do our 
farms represent but so much real estate, so much 
cash value? 

Only where man loves the soil and nestles to it 
closely and long, will it take on this beneficent and 
human look which foreign travelers miss in our land- 
scape ; and only where homes are built with fondness 
ind emotion, and in obedience to the social, paternal, 
snd domestic instincts, will they hold the charm and 
radiate and be warm with the feeling I have de- 
Bcribed. 

And while I am upon the subject, I will add thai 
European cities differ from ours in this same particu- 
lar. Tney have a homelier character — more the 
lir of dwelling-places, the abodes of men drawn to- 



246 



AN OCTOBEK ABROAD. 



gether for other purposes than traffic. People actu- 
ally live in them, and find life sweet and festal. Eut 
what does our greatest city, New York, express be- 
sides commerce or politics, or what other reason has 
it for its existence ? This is, of course, in a measure 
the result of the modern worldly and practical business 
spirit, which more and more animates all nations, and 
^vhich led Carlyle to say of his own countrymen that 
they were becoming daily more " flat, stupid, and 
mammonish." Yet I am persuaded that in our case 
it is traceable also to the leanness and depletion o^ 
our social and convivial instincts, and to the fact that 
the material cares of Jife are more serious and en- 
grossing with us than with any other people. 

I spent part of a day at Cork, wandering about the 
town, threading my way through the back streets and 
alleys, and seeing life reduced to fewer makeshifts 
than I had ever before dreamed of. I went through, 
or rather skirted, a kind of second-hand market, where 
the most sorry and dilapidated articles of clothing 
;ind household utensils were offered for sale, and 
where the cobblers were cobbling up old shoes that 
would hardly hold together. Then the wTetched old 
women gne sees, without any sprinkling of young 
ones — youth and age alike bloomless and unlovely. 

In a meadow on the hills that encompass the 
city, I found the American dandelion in bloom and 
some large red clover, and started up some skylarki 
ks I might start up the field sparrows in our own up 
'yiiig fields^ 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 247 

Is the magpie a Celt and a Catholic ? I saw no 
one in England, but plenty of them in France, and 
again when J reached Ireland. 

At Queenstown I awaited the steamer from Liver- 
pool, and about nine o'clock in the morning was de- 
lighted to see her long black form moving up the 
bay. She came to anchor about a mile or two out, 
and a little tug was in readiness to take us off. A 
score or more of emigrants, each with a bag and box, 
had been waiting all the morning . at the wharf. When 
the time of embarkation arrived, the agent stepped 
aboard the tug and called out their names one by one, 
when Bridiret and Catherine and Patrick and Mi- 
chael, and the rest, came aboard, received their tick- 
ets and passed forward " with a half-frightened, half- 
bewildered look. But not much emotion was dis- 
played until the boat began to move off, when the 
tears fell freely, and they continued to fall flister and 
faster and the sobs to come thicker and thicker, un- 
til, as the faces of friends began to fade on the wharf, 
both men and women burst out into a loud, unre- 
strained bawl. This sudden demonstration of grief 
seemed to frighten the children and smaller fry, who 
up to this time had been very jovial ; but now, sus- 
pectii g something was wrong, they all broke out in a 
most pitiful chorus, forming an anti-climax to the 
•^ail of their parents that was quite amusing, and 
mat seemed to have its effect upon the children 
di a larger growth," foi they instantly hushed their 
^mentations and turned their attention toward the 



248 AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 

great steamer. There was a rugged but bewildered 
old granny among them on her way to join her daugh- 
ter somewhere in the interior of New York who 
Beemed to regard me with a kindred eye, and toward 
whom, I confess, I felt some family affinity. Before we 
had got half way to the vessel, the dear old creature 
missed a sheet from her precious bundle of worldy ef- 
fects, and very confidentially told me that her suspi- 
cions pointed to the stoker, a bristling, sooty, "wild 
Irishman." The stoker resented the insinuation, and 
I overheard him berating the old lady in Irish so 
sharply and threateningly (I had no doubt of his 
guilt) that she was quite frightened, and ready to re- 
tract the charge to hush the man up. She seemed 
to think her troubles had just begun. If they be- 
haved thus to her on the little tug, what would they 
not do on board the great black steamer itself? So 
when she got separated from her luggage in getting 
aboard the vessel, her excitement was great, and I 
met her following about the man whom she had ac- 
cused of filching her bed linen, as if he must have 
the clew to the lost bed itself. Her face brightened 
when she saw me, and giving me a terribly hard 
wink and a most expressive nudge, said she wished 
• would keep near her a little. This I did, and soon 
Lad the pleasure of leaving her happy and reassured 
beside her box and bundle. 

The passage home, though a rough one, was cheer- 
fully and patiently borne. I found a compound mo- 
don, the motion of a screw steamer, a roll and a 



FROxAI LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



249 



plunge, less trying to my head Ithan the simple rock- 
ing or pitching of the side-wheeled Scotia, One mo- 
tion was in a measure a foil to the other. My brain, 
acted upon by two forces, was compelled to take t]io 
hypothenuse, and I think the concussion was con- 
siderably diminished thereby. The vessel was for- 
ever trembling upon the verge of immense watery 
chasms that opened now under her port bows, now 
under her starboard, and that almost made one catch 
for his breath as he looked into them ; yet the noble 
ship had a way of skirting them or striding across 
them that was quite wonderful. Only five days was 
I compelled to " hole up " in my state-room, hiber- 
nating, weathering the final rude shock of the At- 
lantic. Part of this time I was capable of feeling a 
languid interest in the oscillations of my coat sus- 
pended from a hook in the door. Back and forth, 
back and forth, all day long vibrated this black pen- 
dulum, at long intervals touching the sides of the 
room, indicating great lateral or diagonal motion of 
the ship. The great waves, I observed, go in packs 
like wolves. Now one would pounce upon her, then 
another, then another in quick succession, making the 
ship strain every nerve to shake them off. Then she 
would glide along quietly for some minutes and my 
coat would register but a few degrees in its imagin- 
ary arc, when another band of the careering demons 
would cross our path and harass us as before. Some- 
times they would pound and thump on the sides of 
Ihe vessel like immense sledge hammers, beginning 



250 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



away up toward the bows and quickly running down 
her whole length, jarring, raking, and venting their 
wrath in a very audible manner ; or a wave would 
rake along the side with a sharp, ringing, mei:alliL 
sound, like a huge spear point seeking a vulnerablti 
place, or some hard-backed monster would rise up 
from the deep and grate and bump the whole lengtt 
of the keel, forcibly suggesting hidden rocks and con- 
sequent wreck and ruin. 

Then it seems there is always some biggest wave 
to be met with somewhere on the voyage, a monster 
billow that engulfs disabled vessels and sometimes 
carries away parts of the rigging of the stanchest. 
This big wave struck us the third day out about mid- 
night, and nearly threw us all out of our berths, and 
careened the ship over so far that it seemed to take 
her last pound of strength to right herself up again. 
There was a slamming of doors, a rush of crockery, 
and a screaming of women, heard above the general 
din and confusion, while the steerage passengers 
thought their last hour had come. The vessel before 
IS encountered this mant wave durinor a storm in mid 
ocean, and was completely buried beneath it ; one ol 
the officers was swept overboard, the engines sud- 
denly stopped, and there was a terrible moment dur- 
ing which it seemed uncertain whether the vessel 
would shake off the sea or go to the bottom. 

Besides observing the oscillations of my coat, I 
had at times a stupid satisfaction in seeing my two 
new London trunks belabor each other about mj 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



261 



State room floor. Nearly every day they would break 
froir their fastenings under my berth and start on a 
wild race for the opposite side of the room. Natur- 
ally enough the little trunk would always get the 
Btari of the big one, but the big one followed close 
and v'ometimes caught the little one in a very uncom- 
fortible manner. Once a knife and fork and a break- 
fast plate slipped off the sofa and joined in the race, 
but if not distanced they got sadly the wjrst of it, 
especially the plate. But the carpet haa the most 
reason to complain. Two or three turns sufficed to 
loosen it from the floor, when, shoved to one side, the 
two trunks took turns in butting it. I used to allow 
this sport to go on till it grew monotonous, when I 
would alternately shout and ring until "Robert" 
appeared and restored order. 

The condition of certain picture-frames and vases 
and other frail articles among my effects, when T 
reached home, called to mind not very pleasantly this 
trunken frolic. 

It is impossible not to sympathize with the ship in 
her struggles with the waves. You are lying there 
wedged into your berth, and she seems indeed a thing 
of life and conscious power. She is built entirely of 
TTon, is 500 feet long, and besides other freight car- 
ries 2,500 tons of railroad iron which lies down there 
flat in her bottom, a dead, indigestible weight, so un- 
like a cargo in bulk, ye^ she is a quickened spirit for 
\\] that. You feel every wave that strikes her, you 
feel the sea bearing her down, she has run her no§e 



252 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



into one of those huge swells, and a solid blue wall 
of water tons in weight comes over her bows and 
floods her forward deck, she braces herself, every rod 
and rivet and timber seems to lend its support, you 
almost expect to see the wooden walls of your room 
grow rigid with muscular contraction ; she trembles 
from stem to stern, she recovers, she breaks the gripe 
of her antagonist and rising up, shakes the sea from 
her with a kind of gleeful wrath; I hear the torrents 
of water rush along the lower decks, and finding a 
means of escape, pour back into the sea, glad to get 
away on any terms, and I say, "Noble ship I you are 
indeed a god ! " 

I wanted to see a first-class storm at sea, and per- 
haps ought to be satisfied with the heavy blow oi 
hurricane we had when off Sable Islands, but I con- 
fess I was not. though, by the lying-to of the vessel 
and the frequent soundings, it was evident there was 
danger about. A dense fog uprose, which did not 
drift like a land fog, but was as immovable as iron ; 
it was like a spell, a misty enchantment, and out of 
this fog came the wind, a steady, booming blast, that 
smote the ship over on her side and held her there 
and howled in the rigging like a chorus of fiends. 
The waves did not know which way to flee ; they 
were heaped up and then scattered in a twinkling 
I thought of the terrible line of one of our poets : — 

" The spasm ot the sky and the shatter of the sea/* 
Tne sea looked wrinkled and old, and oh, so pitiless 
I had stood long before Turner's " Shipwreck " in th« 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. 



253 



National Gallery in London, and this sea recalled 
his, and I appreciated more than ever the artist's 
great powers. 

These storms it appears, are rotary in their wild 
dance and promenade up and down the seas. " Look 
the wind squarely in the teeth," said an ex-sea-cap- 
tain among the passengers, " and eight points to the 
right in the northern hemisphere will be the centre 
of the storm, and eight points to the left in the south- 
ern hemisphere." I remembered that in Victor 
Hugo's terrible dynamics, storms revolved in the 
other direction in the northern hemisphere, or fol- 
lowed the hands of a watch, while south of the equator 
they no doubt have ways equally original. 

Late in the afternoon the storm abated, the fog 
was suddenly laid, and looking toward the setting 
sun, I saw him athwart the wildest, most desolate 
scene that it was ever my fortune to behold the face 
of that god. The sea was terribly agitated, and the 
endless succession of leaping, frothing waves between 
me and the glowing west, formed a picture I shall 
not soon forget. 

I think the excuse that is often made in behalf of 
American literature, namely, that our people are too 
busy with other things yet, and will show the proper 
aptitude m this field too as soon as leisure is afforded, 
is fully justified by events of daily occurrence. 
Throw a number of them together without anything 
else to do, and they at once communicate to each 
other ^he itch of authorship. Confine them on board 



254 



AN OCTOBER ABROAD. 



an ocean steamer, and by the third or fourth day a 
large number of them will break out all over with a 
soi't of literary rash that nothing will assuage but 
Bome newspaper or journalistic enterprise, which will 
give the poems and essays and jokes with whicli they 
are surcharged a chance to be seen and heard of men. 
I doubt if the like ever occurs among travelers of 
any other nationality. Englishmen or Frenchmen 
or Germans want something more warm and human, 
if less " refined; " but the average American, when in 
company, likes nothing so well as an opportunity to 
show the national trait of " smartness." There is 
Lot a bit of danger that we shall ever relapse into 
barbarism while so much latent literature lies at the 
bottom of our daily cares and avocations, and is sure 
to come to the surface the moment the latter are sus- 
pended or annulled ! 

While abreast of New England, and I don't know 
how many miles at sea, as I turned in my deck prom- 
enade, I distinctly scented the land — a subtle, de- 
licious odor of farms and homesteads, warm and 
human, that floated on the wild sea air, a promise and 
a token. The broad red line that had been slowly 
creeping across our chart for so many weary days, 
ndicating the path of the ship, had now completely 
biidged the chasm, and had got a good purchase 
down tinder the southern coast of New England, and 
according to the reckoning we ought to have made 
Sandy Hook that night; but though the position o* 
iie vessel was no doubt theoretically all right, ye* 



FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK 



255 



practically she proved to be much farther out at sea, 
for all that afternoon and night she held steadDy on 
her course, and not till next morning did the coast oi 
Long Island, like a thin broken cloud just defined on 
the horizon, come into view. But before many hours 
we had passed the Hook, and were moving slowly up 
the bay in the mid-day splendor of the powerful and 
dazzling light of the New World sun. And how good 
things looked to me after even so brief an absence I 
the brilliancy, the roominess, the deep transparent 
blue of the sky, the clear, sharp outlines, the metro- 
politan splendor of New York, and especially of 
Broadway ; and as I walked up that great thorough 
fare and noted the familiar physiognomy and the 
native nonchalance and independence, I experienced 
the delight that only the returned traveler can feel, 
the instant preference of one's own country and coun- 
rvmen over all the rest of the world. 



Date Due 


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Ltecarr Buf««o Cat no. 1137 



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